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When is the public sector equality obligation applicable?

Public authorities have a duty to think about the impact of their decisions or policies on people protected by the Equality Act. This is called the public sector equality duty. The Equality Act protects people who have protected characteristics, such as race, gender, and disability.

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The Equality Act protects marriage and civil partnerships, but it is not subject to the public sector equality obligation.

When is the public sector equality obligation applicable?

If you have been or will be affected by a decision made by a public authority about how it delivers services or implements policies, you may be eligible to apply the public sector equality obligation.

The following are examples of situations where the public sector equality obligation could be applied:

You can apply for housing, benefits or other public services

A local authority may decide not to fund or reduce funding for services such as care homes, advocacy for the disabled or transport services for older persons.

A school can make decisions about school uniforms and school transport.

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Is the Equality Act protecting you?

If you are protected by the Equality Act, you can only challenge a decision or policy through the public sector equality obligation.

What is the best time to contact the authorities about your problem?

You should challenge any public authority’s decision making or delivery of services.

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It is possible to:

  • Influence a public authority before it takes a decision
  • Find out more information to find out if the decision took into account the public sector equality obligation
  • Tell it that you believe it has violated the duty
  • Make a formal complaint
  • Take legal action
  • Additional useful information
  • Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS).

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The EASS Helpline can offer advice and information about discrimination and other human rights issues.

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