Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

What is the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty?

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 our founding legislation, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014.

What does the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 say?

Section 42 states that:

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

1.eliminate discrimination,

2. promote equality of opportunity and treatment of its staff and the persons to whom it provides services, and

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

Core steps

Section 42 also sets out three core steps to be taken by public bodies;

Strategic Planning
In preparing strategic plans, public sector bodies must assess and identify the human rights and equality issues that are relevant to their functions. These issues must relate to all of its functions as policy maker, employer and service provider.

Policies and Practices
Public bodies must then identify the policies and practices that they have in place or that they plan to put in place to address these issues.

Finally, in their annual reports, or equivalent documents, public bodies must report in a manner accessible to the public on their developments and achievement in that regard.


Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

The duty relates to all the functions of a public body which may include; employment, budgeting, procurement, policy development and service delivery.

Read this information leaflet outlining some steps a public body can take to bring a human rights and equality focus to their work.

Leagtar amach sa bhileog eolais seo roinnt céimeanna ar féidir le comhlachtaí poiblí a ghlacadh chun cúrsaí chearta daonna agus comhionannais a chur san áireamh ina gcuid oibre.

The Commission is currently developing a set of guidance materials in conjunction with public bodies and other experts which will offer detailed information on implementing the duty. Our Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty team are available to support and advise organisations on the implementation of their duty and can be contacted on 01 8589601 or at


 Benefits of Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty


These are some tools that may help build capacity for human rights and equality in your organisation:

Delivering Equality in Public Services: An Introduction for Front-line Staff

This e-learning course is designed to provide front line staff with an introduction to equality law in service delivery. It is a practical resource to help make equality real in the day-to-day workings of the public service. The course is approx 40 minutes duration and is free to access.

Other Resources

Resources on Understanding Human Rights and Equality

Resources and Tools for Human Rights and Equality Assessment

Resources and Tools on Human Rights and Equality Policies and Action Plans

Case Studies