Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Law Affects All Be Aware of Risks; the Case of a Gay Couple Who Were Told They Could Not Share a Double Bedroom at a Hotel Could Be the First of Many Brought under the Equality Act 2010, Says PAUL JOHNSTONE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Law Affects All Be Aware of Risks; the Case of a Gay Couple Who Were Told They Could Not Share a Double Bedroom at a Hotel Could Be the First of Many Brought under the Equality Act 2010, Says PAUL JOHNSTONE

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL JOHNSTONE

THE implementation of the new general Public Sector Equality Duty, which came into force on April 5, is not only a very important development for those who work in public sector organisations.

As well as those running the likes of local government bodies, local authorities, NHS trusts, the police, social service departments, schools, colleges and universities, the duty also has ramifications for any members of the community using those services.

The new law requires public sector organisations to consider how they can not only "eliminate discrimination" but also "advance equality of opportunity" and "foster good relations" between various groups of people based on their protected characteristics.

The protected characteristics in Equality Act 2010 which relate to these particular provisions are age, sex, sexual orientation, religious and philosophical belief, transgender, race, disability, as well as pregnancy and maternity. However, private sector organisations cannot be complacent in the mistaken belief that the duties on public sector organisations will have no impact on their operational practices.

There are two specific ways in which these new rules will apply to the private sector.

The first is through the procurement process whereby any private sector organisation engaging in a commercial contract with a public sector body may be required to be able to prove that the services will be delivered in a manner which ensures the public sector body is satisfying the obligations set out under the Equality Act. The second is the duty on the "providers of services" (irrespective of whether the provider of those services is a public, private or voluntary sector organisation) to comply with the principle that the delivery of the services will be free from any discriminatory treatment based on particular protected characteristics.

These new legal obligations bring the principles of discrimination law and equality law out of the workplace and into the wider society.

Traditionally, these laws have been applied predominantly in the workplace to prevent employees being subjected to discrimination or harassment. …

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