Update on statutory codes of practice on the Public Sector Equality Duty

In March 2012, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that it is no longer able to proceed with plans for further statutory codes of practice on the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The EHRC website states:

We were intending to produce further statutory codes of practice on the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which came into force on 5 April 2011, and codes for the Further and Higher Education (FEHE) sector and schools.

Unfortunately, we are no longer able to proceed with these plans. The Government is keen to reduce bureaucracy around the Equality Act 2010, and feels that further statutory guidance may place too much of a burden on public bodies. Although the Commission has powers to issue codes, it cannot do so without the approval of the Secretary of State, as we are reliant upon government to lay codes before parliament, in order for them to be statutory.

It is the Commission’s view that, rather than creating a regulatory burden, statutory codes have a valuable role to play in making clearer to everyone what is and is not needed in order to comply with the Equality Act. However, as this is no longer an option, we feel the best solution is to issue our draft codes as non statutory codes instead. These non statutory codes will still give a formal, authoritative, and comprehensive legal interpretation of the PSED and education sections of the Act and will make it clear to everyone what the requirements of the legislation are.

The FEHE and schools underwent a full consultation in 2011 in the form of draft statutory codes, and we intend to publish the revised versions as non statutory codes shortly. The draft PSED non statutory codes will be published shortly for review and we will be looking for feedback on the draft texts so that we can make sure they fully meet the needs of public bodies and other potential users.

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