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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Section 75 duties

What you need to know

How we can help



Section 75 duties for Public Authorities

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act aims to change the practices of government and public authorities so that equality of opportunity and good relations are central to policy making and service delivery. The Section 75 statutory duties aim to encourage public authorities to address inequalities and demonstrate measurable positive impact on the lives of people experiencing inequalities. Its effective implementation should improve the quality of life for all of the people of Northern Ireland.


These duties apply to designated public authorities including government departments and agencies, local councils, health trusts, housing associations, colleges and universities, and education and library boards.

What are public authorities required to do?

Public authorities need to consider equality in all aspects of their organisation. This includes how they plan and deliver a service, to policies on employing people, enforcing the law, buying services, approving budgets and regulating others.

Integrating equal opportunity principles and practices from the outset ensures that equality considerations are mainstreamed and built into the policy development process from the beginning, rather than being bolted on at the end. Mainstreaming can help improve methods of working by increasing a public authority’s accountability, responsiveness to need and relations with the public.

Section 75 requires public authorities to have due regard for the need to promote equality of opportunity between:


  • persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation
  • men and women generally
  • persons with a disability and persons without
  • persons with dependants and persons without

The promotion of equality of opportunity entails more than the elimination of discrimination. It requires proactive action to promote equality of opportunity and encourages public authorities to take action to address inequality among the groups listed above.

Public authorities must also have regard for the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group. The Commission emphasises that the good relations duty embraces and extends beyond the religious / political dimension of ‘community relations’. Consideration of the needs and interests of all minority ethnic groups is also important in this context. Public authorities must recognise the inter-dependence of equality and good relations.

It should be noted that both duties have to be discharged in all circumstances.


What is an equality scheme?

To implement their Section 75 statutory duties, public authorities are required to submit an equality scheme to the Equality Commission. This is a statement of commitment to fulfilling their Section 75 duties. It is a plan setting out how they are going to ensure that equality and good relations are promoted in everything they do. More>


All equality schemes must conform to the Commission’s guidance. See Chapter 6 of our Guide for Public Authorities (pdf, 214kb)


Do equality schemes need approval?

Yes, the Equality Commission uses an Equality Scheme Desk Audit Form (word doc) to assess statutory requirements for equality schemes and we use the results to determine whether the schemes should be approved or not.


We have have produced a range of useful guides and templates to assist public authorities with their Section 75 obligations. For further details see the Section 75 publications.


What is screening?

Screening is the process of monitoring policies for any adverse impacts on the promotion of equality of opportunity and good relations and consulting with those likely to be affected. It is important that public authorities commit to screening at the start of the policy development process, rather than when the policy has been established. This helps to identify any policies that are likely to have major equality issues, and if so, they must be subject to a full equality impact assessment (EQIA).

When there is ambiguity, the public authority must consult on whether the policy should be subject to equality impact assessment and all such policies must be incorporated into the public authority’s EQIA timetable as appropriate to their priority. More>


What is an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA)?

If screening identifies that a policy has major potential to impact on equality of opportunity and good relations, then it should be subjected to a more detailed analysis - an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA). This means if a policy shows a possible ‘adverse impact’ on any group, the public authority must consider how this might be reduced. This would include how an alternative policy might lessen this effect and serve to promote equality of opportunity.

Public authorities should allow a 12 week consultation period in order to assess the views of those who will be affected by policy decisions. This will help to raise awareness of issues and problems that policies may pose for various groups which may not otherwise be discovered. The results of all equality impact assessments must be published.  More>


How should S75 be implemented?

Strong leadership is necessary within public authorities to ensure that the Section 75 statutory duties are integrated into core business activities and put into effective and visible practice. Effective implementation should be assured by ongoing top-level commitment, allocation of necessary resources, establishment of clear lines of responsibility, effective communication and training, and a process for monitoring and ensuring progress.

Commitment to all of the requirements and recommendations in our Guide for Public Authorities should have a real and tangible impact on reducing inequalities that exist for people within Northern Ireland.  More>

The Equality Commission has powers (under paragraph 10 and 11 of Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act) to investigate complaints that public authorities have failed to comply with their equality schemes from people who are directly affected by such failure, and we can also initiate such investigations. Read more about our investigations procedure

Recommended reading:

Public Authority statutory duties - template and guidance:


Public Authority Action Plan review publications:

Review of Action Plans developed by public authorities in relation to their statutory equality and good relations duties:

See 'publications tab' above for our full range of Section 75 publications

< Public Authorities

How we can help

We believe that helping you promote and encourage good equal opportunities practice is as important as enforcing the equality law. Every year, the Commission helps hundreds of businesses and organisations comply with equality laws.

We recognise that employers' needs differ across sectors and businesses – so we tailor our services to meet employers’ varying needs.


We provide high quality training seminars and information sessions to employers on a wide range of equality issues.

These events provide advice and guidance on employers’ duties under current equality laws and on introducing best practice. We recommend that employers carefully consider their needs and choose the seminars and sessions which are of most benefit to them.


    Training sessions include:

   •  Introduction to understanding equality
   •  Equality training for line managers
   •  Recruiting fairly
   •  Bullying and harassment at work
   •  Pregnancy, maternity and flexible working
   •  Absence and performance management
   •  Promoting disability in the workplace 
   •  Reasonable steps defence
   •  How to complete an Article 55 Review
   •  Monitoring form workshops







We are flexible in terms of themes covered and can tailor courses to suit employers’ business needs. Further details are available on our employer training page or email - Tel: 02890 500560


In-house training

On occasion, the Commission can provide in-house training for organisations.  Where we agree to such a request, we will normally deliver one session to key staff within the organisation and assist them to disseminate the training internally. For in-house training requests email or Tel: 028 90 500560.

Speakers for your event

If you are organising an equality related event, our staff can share their expertise to highlight relevant issues in equality law that relate to your business priorities. For further information, contact Paul Oakes  Tel: 028 90 500600.

Employer equality networks

We organize regional and sectoral networks to enable employers to work with the Equality Commission and other employers to address common issues, challenges and opportunities. The networks are as follows:

Regional Equality Networks Sectoral Equality Networks
  • Antrim and Ballymena
  • Armagh and Newry
  • Fermanagh area
  • Retail sector
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths)
  • Voluntary sector

Members currently include Iceland Foods Plc, Tesco, Sainsburys, Primark, Henderson Group, Winemark, Marks & Spencer, Co-Op, Dunnes Stores, IKEA, House of Fraser, Homebase, Botanic Inns Ltd, Debenhams and Asda.  Read more>

If you are an employer and would like to join an Employer Network email: or Tel: 02890 890888


Employer news ezine

To receive updates on our training seminars, events and employer equality networks sign up to receive our Public Authorities Newsletter using the subscribe button at the bottom of the page.



These publications are relevant to the equality duties on public authorities:

Public Authority statutory duties - template and guidance:

Section 75 publications:

Good Relations publications


Model Equality Scheme documents


Audit of inequalities


Public Authority statutory duties - review publications

Review of Action Plans developed by public authorities in relation to their statutory equality and good relations duties:


 - Full report (pdf, 2016),  Summary report (pdf, 2016),  Technical report (pdf, 2016)

Report on consultation timescales

The Commission undertook a consultation exercise to consider its advice on Equality Scheme arrangements for consultation timescales.  Download the report of the consultation exercise (pdf, 2016)
During the consultation period the Commission held an event which also considered examples of good practice in consultation generally.  Three presentations from that event are also available:

If you are looking for a particular publication you can search our publications database
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