General and Specific Duties of the Act

Created on: 31 Jul 2023 | Last modified: 09 Nov 2023

All educational establishments, in compliance with the Act, must:

• eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
• advance equality of opportunity between different groups
• consider how different people will be affected by proposed activities
• deliver policies and services which are efficient and effective, that are accessible
to all and meet different people’s needs
• foster good relations between different groups
• publish data to show compliance with the duty annually
• set equality objectives at least every 4 years.

Positive Action

The Equality Act allows organisations to target initiatives at particular groups if it is a proportionate way of them addressing under-representation, a disadvantage they reasonably think the group has suffered, or a different need they have.

The Equality Act also contains a provision which allows employers to use a protected characteristic, such as sexual orientation, as the tipping factor when deciding between two candidates who are ‘as qualified as each other’.

Trade Unions and the Act

Trade unions have responsibilities under the Act as employers and providers of services. They must ensure that they do not discriminate in either capacity.

Despite many years of campaigning against discrimination and homophobia, and changes in attitude of government, society and employers towards LGBT people, fears and myths are still all too easily exploited.

Trade unions have represented members experiencing discrimination and harassment, and have negotiated with employers to develop anti-discrimination and bullying and harassment policies which include reference to LGBT people. They have developed education programmes and training for their own membership.

The STUC and TUC have been prominent in campaigning for improved rights for LGBT employees and an end to unjustifiable and discriminatory legislation. The STUC has established a network of LGBT trade unionists representing many trade unions in Scotland. The EIS also has a network for teachers who identify as LGBT.