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General and specific duties

Review of the public sector equality duty

On 15 May 2012, the Home Secretary announced a review of the PSED, as part of the outcome of the Red Tape Challenge spotlight on equalities. The review will establish whether the Equality Duty in the Equalities Act 2010 is operating as intended.

The review is expected to be completed by June 2013 and more information is available from 

In the meantime the Equality Act brings the pre-existing pubic sector duties on race, gender and disability together under one umbrella. The EHRC provides more comprehensive guidance.

General Duty

Section 149 of the Equality Act requires public authorities to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Specific Duties

The specific duties are intended to help public authorities to comply with their general equality duty. 


See a 'quick guide' to the specific duties as they relate to England.


The Welsh regulations came into effect on 4 April 2011 and are much fuller than those for England. For example, they:

  • require that information about objectives include a timescale and steps to be taken, and that a 'Strategic Equality Plan' be prepared,
  • provide for enagagement of groups involved, such as disabled people,
  • contain express provisions about making and publishing equality impact assessments, and
  • provide for collection and publication of numerous employment statistics broken down by protected characteristic, including disability,
  • include an express requirement to have regard to equality in public procurement (see next heading).

For more information go to the Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance for Wales


Consultation on revised draft Regulations for specific duties was launched on 9 September 2011 and closed on 25 November 2011. On 9 March 2012 the Scottish Government published an analysis of consultation responses and its own report on the consultation. This report summarises the Scottish Government's response to the issues raised and includes the final version of the draft Regulations.

The Regulations were laid before the Scottish Parliament on 21 March 2012 and came into force on 27 May 2012.

Northern Ireland

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has produced a 'Unified Guide to Promoting Equal Opportunities in Employment' which aims to provide employers with practical guidance on how to comply with their responsibilities under Irish anti discrimination laws which are slightly different to the rest of the United Kingdom. 

Page last updated April 2013