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The University of Southampton

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 unifies and supersedes all previous legislation affecting equality and discrimination in England, Scotland and Wales, and establishes a focused approach to equality law. It includes regulations affecting employment, the provision of services, education and accessibility of buildings, websites and transport. Fundamentally, it defines several ‘protected characteristics’, and broadly extends the same rights and protections to members of all the protected groups.

In addition to unifying existing legislation, the Equality Act introduces a number of new regulations. Most significant of these is the Public Sector Equality Duty, which requires all public sector organisations (including universities) to comply with the Equality Act and lead by example through fulfilling specific guidelines.

Protected characteristics

The Act defines the following protected characteristics. The discrimination, harassment and victimisation of a person, or group of people, who identify with any of these protected characteristics is unlawful, including institutional discrimination and failure to provide fair access through negligence.

Public Sector Equality Duty

As an organisation that receives public funding, the University is subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty: specific requirements designed to ensure that the University is compliant with the Equality Act and to demonstrate the public sector’s commitment to equality and diversity.

As well as the general Public Sector duty, which requires due regard to:

the University is subject to Specific Duties relating to Higher Education. These duties require the University to:

The University met the first of these requirements by publishing the Equality Plan 2010-2013, which established objectives against each of the protected characteristics for delivery through 2010-2013. Since 2013, high-level equality objectives have been agreed on an annual basis by Council and can be reviewed by looking at our previous Annual Diversity Reports.

The University has established a framework for Equality Assessments, to ensure that changes to policies and new initiatives are assessed for their impact (whether positive or negative) on the protected groups. "Due regard" will also be monitored through the mainstreaming of equality throughout the University's Vision 2020 strategy.

The last requirement is fulfilled by our monitoring and benchmarking processes.

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