Equality policy

Our obligations under the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 aims to make society fairer for everyone. It brings together and strengthens previous equality legislation. The Act was introduced to make equality law simpler to understand and easier to follow.

The Equality Act protects people who come from different groups and communities. The ‘protected characteristics’ covered by the Equality Act 2010 are: age (18+), disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, gender re-assignment and sexual orientation.

The legislation applies to all organisations which provide a service to the public, or sections of the public. It also applies to anyone who sells goods or provides facilities. It applies to all services, whether or not a charge is made for them.

Requirement to take positive action

Some people with protected characteristics are disadvantaged or under-represented in some areas of life or have particular needs linked to their characteristic. They may need extra help or encouragement if they are to have the same chances as everybody else. Positive action provisions enable public sector organisations to take proportionate steps to help people overcome their disadvantages or meet their needs.

Public Sector Equality Duty

Welwyn Hatfield Council is required to comply with a Public Sector Equality Duty, introduced as part of the Act. There are two parts to this duty

General Duty

We must always give consideration to the following three issues when reviewing existing policies and services or when planning new ones. This also applies to staff development and management, such as training: 1 Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010 2 Advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups 3 Foster good relations between people from different groups.

Specific Duties

The Act requires public sector authorities such as Welwyn Hatfield Council to fulfil additional ‘specific duties’. The specific duty is all about providing information on its performance to the public. The information (which must be published in a clear, easy to understand format) should include: 1 How we comply with the General Duty 2 How we are assessing our policies and practices to make sure they and non-discriminatory 3 Our Equality Objectives – what we are doing to further the aims of the General Duty 4 How we have consulted with others to achieve the General Duty and to develop our Equality Scheme

Understanding the impact of our services and policies on the council’s customers

The Equality Duty requires us to understand how different people are affected by their policies so that they are better informed when making decisions about changing policies and developing new policies and services. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will ensure that an Equality Impact Assessment is carried out whenever a new service or service-related policy is being developed, or existing ones are being reviewed. Through this process we will be able to identify whether people with protected characteristics are likely to be negatively impacted and arrangements can then be put in place to manage, reduce or eliminate the negative impact.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits

Direct Discrimination

This is where someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic. This also applies to a person who does not have the protected characteristic themselves, but is linked to or associated with someone who does. Direct discrimination also applies where a person is wrongly thought to have a particular protected characteristic or is treated as if they do.

Indirect Discrimination

This happens when there is a rule, policy or practice that applies to everyone but disadvantages people who share a particular protected characteristic.


This is where a service provider/employer treats an individual or group of people in a way which makes them feel threatened, humiliated or degraded.


Victimisation occurs when someone is treated badly because they have done something in relation to the Equality Act, such as making or supporting a complaint or raising a grievance about discrimination, or the service provider believes they have done so.