Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Bill: equality impact assessment

Result of the equality impact assessment (EQIA) carried out to consider the impact of the provisions contained in the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry)(Scotland) Bill.

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The Scope of the EQIA

As the temporary measures to be either expired by the Bill or extended beyond 30 September 2021 as a result of the extension of Parts 1 of the Scottish Acts cover a broad range of topics, many people in Scotland with one or more of the protected characteristics, including children and young people, students, carers and those involved in the justice system might be impacted.

The Scottish Government has considered whether the provisions could constitute conduct prohibited by the Equality Act. In many cases, the provisions, and their expiry or extension, will apply to a wide range of people across the range of protected characteristics. These proposals allow the existing legal protections to remain in place to safeguard people's welfare and ensure that their access to justice is maintained.

It should be also borne in mind that the temporary measures being expired will result in a return to pre-COVID legislative arrangements, while the temporary measures being extended for an additional temporary period will be kept under review to ensure their positive effects are kept in view and importantly to ensure that if any potential negative impact is identified, steps can be taken to address them.

The Scottish Government has also considered whether the provisions could constitute direct or indirect discrimination. It is not anticipated that the provisions could give rise to more significant impacts on certain protected characteristics. Where some possible impact has been identified, the Scottish Government considers the impacts are justified and a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of protecting the general public from the coronavirus pandemic by increasing the capacity of public service systems and mitigating the spread of infection.

During the EQIA process, the potential impact on each of the protected characteristics was considered (including age, disability, sex, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership). The assessment identified that the Bill is likely to have a direct positive impact on women. The Scottish Government has no evidence to suggest that any person with protected characteristics would be disproportionately adversely affected by the introduction of the Bill.

In developing this EQIA the Scottish Government is mindful throughout of the three needs of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which are to: eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. Where any negative impacts have been identified, the Scottish Government has sought to mitigate/eliminate these. The Scottish Government is also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as the Government also has a positive duty to promote equality. The Scottish Government has sought to do this through guidance.

As already noted, the Bill continues safeguard put in place by the Scottish Acts, with mitigation measures continuing to lessen the extent of any negative actual or perceived impacts.



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