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Equality Schemes

For Public Authorities

What you need to know


What is an Equality Scheme?

Most public authorities operating in Northern Ireland are required to submit an equality scheme to the Equality Commission. This is a statement of the public authority’s commitment to fulfilling its Section 75 statutory duties, setting out how they are going to ensure that equality and good relations are promoted in everything they do. This should include procedures for measuring performance.


Each equality scheme must outline the public authority’s arrangements for:


  • assessing its compliance with Section 75 statutory duties
  • assessing and consulting on the likely impact of internal policies (relating to people who work for the organisation), as well as external policies (relating to those who are, or could be, served by the organisation)
  • monitoring any adverse impact of policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity and how they will consult with those likely to be affected by them (known as screening)
  • publishing the results of such assessments
  • training their staff
  • ensuring and assessing public access to information and services provided by the public authority


The Commission recommends that public authorities should include a commitment to conducting an annual review of progress, by 31 August each year, on the implementation of their equality scheme, including progress on delivery of actions they have identified to promote equality of opportunity and good relations. This will assist leaders in public authorities assessing their organisation’s progress in relation to the Section 75 statutory duties.

What preparation must be undertaken?

All equality schemes must meet the requirements as set out in chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the Commission’s Guide for Public Authorities (pdf, 214kb)


Public authorities must consult with representative groups when developing an equality scheme, and we also recommend that affected individuals are also consulted.


Do equality schemes need approval?

Yes, all equality schemes must be submitted to the Equality Commission for approval.


We use a template (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 also developed an operational list and notification timetable for requesting equality schemes from public authorities, and have produced a range of useful guides and templates to assist public authorities with their Section 75 obligations.


The Commission shall approve a scheme or refer it to the Secretary of State, in which case it will notify the NI Assembly that it has done so.



It is important to recognise that Section 75 statutory duties do not end once the equality scheme has been submitted to the Commission. The public authority is required to comply with its equality scheme once it has been adopted by the authority and approved by the Commission. In addition to the legislative requirements, there are a range of factors that should be considered when implementing the Section 75 duties. More>
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