11 Equality and the Public Sector Equality Duties
There is a range of equality legislation protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of race, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief. In addition, there are three public sector equality duties that require public authorities to take proactive steps to eliminate discrimination and harassment and to promote equality of opportunity with regard to race, disability and gender.
The race, gender and disability equality duties apply to public functions which are carried out through procurement as well as those carried out directly by a public authority. This means that a private or voluntary organisation must have due regard to the general duties relating to race, disability and gender when carrying out the function on behalf of a public authority.
Contracting authorities must comply with all relevant equality legislation. Where a contractor is carrying out a public function on behalf of a public authority, the legal liability for the duties in relation to that function remains with the public authority which contracts out the function.
The degree to which equality and diversity requirements are specified and incorporated within procurement documentation will vary according to the goods, services or works being purchased and should be assessed on a case by case basis. This will ensure that full consideration is given to the needs of, and the likely impact on, all users and others who will be affected by the contract.
Further information on equality legislation, including guidance
on the public sector equality duties, can be found on the Equality
and Human Rights Commission (
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