Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

Public Bodies’ Statutory Duty to Eliminate Discrimination, Promote Equality, and Protect Human Rights of Staff and Service Users

All public bodies in Ireland have responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans. This is a legal obligation, called the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, and it originated in Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014


Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

To request a hard copy of the Guidance document, please send an email to info@ihrec.ie.

 


Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty:

To meet the core requirements of the Duty, you must Assess, Address and Report.

Public Service Duty Wheel
  1. Assess

    A public body is required to set out in its strategic/corporate plan an assessment of the equality and human rights issues relevant to its purpose and functions, in a manner that is accessible to the public.

  2. Address

    A public body is required to set out in its strategic/corporate plan the policies, plans and actions to address issues raised in the equality and human rights assessment, in a manner that is accessible to the public.

  3. Report

    A public body is required to report annually on developments and achievements in regard to the equality and human rights issues and actions, in a manner accessible to the public, in its annual report.

Service Users & Staff

The Duty protects the people to whom the public body provides services and the staff of the public body.

Strategic Planning Cycle

The requirement to integrate the Duty in strategic plans and annual reports means that it is an ongoing obligation that must be monitored, reviewed, and developed in each strategic planning cycle.


Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

Current News

The Commission has published a new guidance note on COVID-19 and the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.

View guidance note

New tools are now available to assist public bodies in the effective implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty including:

Tool for an evidence-based assessment of equality and human rights issues

Tool for a consultative approach


Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

Student Bursary Scheme

In 2020, as part of our work in promoting the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, the Commission has run its fifth year of our bursary scheme for prospective students of the Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality at the Institute of Public Administration.

View full details of the scheme


Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

Section 42, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014

(1) A public body shall, in the performance of its functions, have regard to the need to—

(a) eliminate discrimination,

(b) promote equality of opportunity and treatment of its staff and the persons to whom it provides services, and

(c) protect the human rights of its members, staff and the persons to whom it provides services.

(2) For the purposes of giving effect to subsection (1), a public body shall, having regard to the functions and purpose of the body and to its size and the resources available to it—

(a) set out in a manner that is accessible to the public in its strategic plan (howsoever described) an assessment of the human rights and equality issues it believes to be relevant to the functions and purpose of the body and the policies, plans and actions in place or proposed to be put in place to address those issues, and

(b) report in a manner that is accessible to the public on developments and achievements in that regard in its annual report (howsoever described).

(3) In assisting public bodies to perform their functions in a manner consistent with subsection (1), the Commission may give guidance to and encourage public bodies in developing policies of, and exercising, good practice and operational standards in relation to, human rights and equality.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3), the Commission may— (a) issue guidelines, or (b) prepare codes of practice in accordance with section 31, in respect of the development by public bodies of performance measures, operational standards and written preventative strategies for the purpose of reducing discrimination and promoting human rights and equality in the public sector workplace and in the provision of services to the public.

(5) Where the Commission considers that there is evidence of a failure by a public body to perform its functions in a manner consistent with subsection (1) and that it is appropriate in all the circumstances to do so, the Commission may invite the public body to— (a) carry out a review in relation to the performance by that body of its functions having regard to subsection (1), or (b) prepare and implement an action plan in relation to the performance by that body of its functions having regard to subsection (1), or both.

(6) A review or an action plan under subsection (5) may relate to— (a) equality of opportunity or human rights generally, or (b) a particular aspect of human rights or discrimination, in the public body concerned.

(7) The Commission may, and, if requested by the Minister, shall, review the operation of subsection (1).

(8) For the purposes of assisting it in carrying out a review under subsection (7), the Commission shall consult such persons or bodies as it considers appropriate.

(9) Where the Commission carries out a review under subsection (7) it— (a) may, or (b) where the Minister has requested the review, shall, make a report of the review to the Minister and any such report shall include such recommendations as the Commission thinks appropriate.

(10) The Commission shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(11) Nothing in this section shall of itself operate to confer a cause of action on any person against a

public body in respect of the performance by it of its functions under subsection (1).