The Equality Act 2010 says public authorities must comply with the public sector equality duty. This is in addition to their duty not to discriminate against you.
Private organisations and individuals don’t have to comply with the duty.
Read this page to find out more about what's a public authority.
The Equality Act sets out a list of public authorities who must comply with the public sector equality duty.
These organisations include:
Other organisations not listed in the Act must also comply with the public sector equality duty if they carry out public functions. This can be a public sector organisation. It can also be a private organisation or charity.
Private organisations and charities are also subject to the public sector equality duty when they carry out public functions.
This could include - for example:
Private organisations and charities which carry out public functions are called hybrid authorities.
If an organisation is not set out in the Equality Act, it’s the courts who decide if it's a public authority carrying out a public function.
Generally speaking a public function is something that’s normally provided to the public by the state like education, prisons or health services.
So if an organisation carries out one of these activities on behalf of the state they may be a public authority. But it’s not enough for a private organisation to carry out a public service for it to count as a public authority.
The courts will look at a number of things to decide if a private organisation is carrying out a public function. It will look at whether the organisation is:
The courts will also look at whether there's a close relationship between the organisation and a public authority.
Some organisations don’t have to comply with the public sector equality duty. This includes the following:
Public authorities must comply with the public sector equality duty when they carry out their functions or services.
The duty applies when public authorities adopt policies - for example, when a local authority adopts a new housing policy or a school changes their school uniform policy.
It also applies to individual decision makers within the public authority - for example, when a housing officer refuses your application for social housing or when a teacher says you can't wear a religious symbol at school.
Public authorities must comply with the duty before they make decisions or introduce new policies. The policies or decisions can be formal or informal, written or unwritten.
Private organisations or charities only have to comply with the duty when they carry out their public functions.
A private security company runs a prison for the government. It also provides security guards to a supermarket. It would only be covered by the public sector equality duty in its public function of running the prison, not in providing the security guards to the supermarket as this is of a private nature.
The EASS helpline can provide advice and information on discrimination and human rights issues.
You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at
You can also find guidance on the public sector equality duty on the EHRC website at
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