The overriding consideration in all cases must be to ensure that girls and boys are not disadvantaged because of their sex and that they are provided with equal opportunities. Where public authorities are unclear on the legality of their proposed approach, it is recommended they seek legal advice.
S47 SDA (margin note)
Positive action in training provided by certain training bodies
There are limited exceptions under the SDA to allow women only (or men only) access to facilities for training. Under those provisions, it is permissible to restrict access to training to women alone (or men alone), to fit them for particular work, or encourage women only to take advantage of opportunities for doing that work, where the numbers of women doing such work in Great Britain were comparatively small at any time during the preceding twelve months. Where the numbers of women undertaking particular work in a local area is comparatively small, single-sex training may also be provided to women who are likely to take up that work in that area to help fit them for that work.
It is also lawful to provide single-sex training to women or men who have a particular need for training to fit them for employment, because they have been out of full-time employment while carrying out domestic or family responsibilities. It is also lawful to take those special training needs into account when selecting applicants for training in mixed-sex classes to fit them for employment.
Providing the above criteria are met, positive action in relation to access to facilities for training may include:
training which is based on job sampling, work experience, 'taster' days with employers, work shadowing experience
training in a skill, for example carpentry, computer programming
career counselling and guidance for working women, or for those wishing to return to work
retraining into areas of skills shortage - especially suitable for women returners who did not have the opportunity of obtaining these qualifications at a school.
The positive action exception does not, however, permit discrimination prohibited by S6 of the SDA relating to applicants or employees and therefore it does not make it lawful to discriminate in recruitment. Any training actually regarded as employment is excluded from the positive action provisions.
See appendix F for positive action provisions relating to training by employers.
Single-sex provision of goods, facilities or services
S29 SDA (margin note)
It is unlawful for a provider of goods, facilities or services to the public, or a section of it, to discriminate, either directly or indirectly, in the way it treats women or men (subject to the exceptions listed below) by refusing to provide goods, facilities or services, or by providing services that are not of a similar quality, in like manner or on like terms