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2010 National Women's Conference
22 October 2009

This Conference notes that the introduction of the public sector duties represented a step change in how employers delivering public services must address inequalities.

Equality impact assessments (EIAs) play a key role in the implementation of the duties and they are a legal requirement for authorities covered by specific duties. They aim to ensure that no groups are disadvantaged on equality grounds by an authority’s decisions and activities and indicate where public authorities can promote equality of opportunity.

The significance of EIA’s mean that the specific duties require the assessment of existing policies and practices as well as new ones. Trade unions should be specifically involved in:

1)Drawing up equality schemes

2)Determining the criteria for equality impact assessments

3)Jointly assessing existing policies and functions

4)Jointly assessing new policies and functions

5)Receiving equality monitoring information on an annual basis

6)Jointly reviewing the outcomes of equality schemes

Nevertheless, despite the requirement for trade unions to be consulted, there is evidence that this is not happening. It is also clear that many employers are undertaking EIA’s as a tick box exercise and thereby failing to comply with the duties.

What is also clear is that many trade union negotiations are either unaware of the importance of EIA’s or do not know how to carry them out.

This conference therefore calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with Equality and Human Rights Commission to monitor how public authorities are undertaking EIA’s.