The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals from unlawful discrimination in relation to particular 'protected characteristics'.
Whilst this topic area is focussed on the role of schools and colleges as employers, everyone is protected by equality legislation, not just employees, though the application of the law can vary in practice, for example where particular exemptions have been provided for.
In employment terms, protection is provided to actual and prospective employees, ex-employees, apprentices, self-employed workers (to some extent), contract workers (employed by a third party) and individuals seeking or undertaking vocational training.
It is unlawful under the Equality Act to directly or indirectly discriminate against, harass or victimise someone on the grounds of one or more of the protected characteristics.
Public bodies, including publicly-funded schools and colleges or those performing public functions, have additional responsibilities under the public sector equality duty which came into force on 5th April 2011.
Equality law is a complex area and ever changing as legislation is interpreted in the courts.
Our section on equality and employment rights provides an introduction to the Equality Act 2010 and its implications for employers.
Our page on the Public Sector Equality Duty provides detailed guidance and templates to support publicly-funded schools and colleges to meet their responsibilities in law.
Our subtopic on the English language requirement (public sector only) considers the statutory code of practice which details the standards and practices expected of public authorities when complying with their legal duty to ensure that those in customer-facing roles can speak fluent English.
In the gender pay gap reporting subtopic you can access guidance on the reporting requirement for schools and colleges (in all sectors) that employ at least 250 staff.
Answers to some of the commonly-asked questions on equality law and employer responsibilities are located in our FAQs.
Please note that the resources in this topic area are specifically focussed on the responsibilities of schools and colleges in their role as an employer. Education establishments do, of course, have additional responsibilities under equality law in respect of their role as service providers. Technical guidance on this aspect for schools and further/higher education providers is available on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.
Use the links on the right to access all the subtopics in this collection.