Exploring the use of positive action

The Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity, based at the University of Chester, are currently undertaking research into the use of positive action in the UK. The research intends to explore the use of the positive action provisions within the Equality Act 2010 by public sector employers in Scotland, England and Wales.

Positive action was first permitted in the UK by the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act, which came into force in the mid-1970s. The scope for action at this time was very limited; however the Equality Act 2010 extended provision.

The general positive action provisions in the Equality Act seek to address disadvantage and under-representation among protected groups in employment, and in society more generally. Positive action measures are permitted if they are a proportionate mechanism to enable people sharing a protected characteristic to overcome or minimise disadvantage; or to meet the different needs of the protected group; or to enable people in protected groups to participate in an activity.

Although legislation specifically provides for and encourages positive action there are very few examples of such initiatives in practice.

The Forum is seeking to gather as many responses as possible, and would encourage public bodies across Scotland to consider taking part. All responses to the survey are anonymous. You can find more information about the survey, and also register to take part, using the link below.