Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Annex

WHAT DOES THE SEX DISCRIMINATION ACT REQUIRE?

  The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) applies to early years provision and, therefore, it is important that providers and practitioners are aware of the education and employment provisions of the Act. The SDA gives people who believe that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of their sex the right to bring complaints before a County Court (education) or Employment Tribunal.

  The SDA defines two kinds of discrimination:

    —  Direct discrimination means treating someone unfairly because of their sex, and;

    —  Indirect discrimination means setting conditions that appear to apply to everyone, but in fact discriminate against one sex.

Education/Goods, Facilities and Services (sections 22 and 29 of the SDA)

  Section 22 makes it unlawful for an educational establishment maintained by a LEA or an independent school to discriminate in admissions (including any condition of admissions), exclusion, providing access to any benefits, facilities or services, or subjecting a child to any other detriment.

  Note: section 22 does not apply if the educational provision is single-sex.

  Early Years Providers not covered by section 22 would be acting unlawfully under section 29 if they discriminated on grounds of sex in access to and the provision of benefits to the public.

Examples

    —  It would be unlawful for early years provider to refuse to admit a child simply because she is a girl or he is a boy;

    —  it would be unlawful for a early years provider to try to balance the number of boys and girls admitted;

    —  it would be unlawful for a early years provider to discriminate against a boy or girl when allocating children to certain activities or facilities. For example only allowing girls to play in the home corner and only allowing boys to play with mechanical toys;

    —  it would be unlawful to group children according to their gender unless the activities offered to both groups are identical eg only offering boys access to football or computers and girls access to dance or cookery would be unlawful!

Employment

  Section 6 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the grounds of sex in recruitment and in the case of employees in the provision of access to training, dismissal, promotion or to any other benefit, facility or service.

    —  it would be unlawful to refuse to employ a man as a early years practitioner on the grounds of his sex.


 
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Prepared 11 January 2001