Public sector Equality Duty in Scotland: consultation

Consultation on proposals for the review into the effectiveness of the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland.


Disaggregated data

Data disaggregation means breaking down large data categories into more specific sub-categories. When data is broken down and disaggregated by protected characteristic groups and sub-groups, they can show the unique differences among groups and reveal significant disparities.

Equality Act 2010

Legislation which consolidates and strengthens laws that protect people from discrimination and disadvantage. The Act set out the nine protected characteristics and created the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

An executive non-departmental public body, who monitor compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty across the Scottish, and wider UK, public sector.

Equality and Human Rights Committee

Committee from the previous parliamentary session (session 5), which focused on human rights, equality (including the nine protected characteristics), and equal opportunities in the Scottish Parliament.

Equality and Human Rights Mainstreaming Strategy

The Scottish Government is currently developing a strategy to embed equality, inclusion and human rights across the public sector, improving how we centre equality, inclusion and human rights in all government policies, decisions and spending.

Equality Data Improvement Programme

A multi-phase programme of work that aims to strengthen Scotland’s equality evidence base enabling policy makers to develop sound and inclusive policy.

Equality, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee

A Scottish Parliamentary Committee established in June 2021 that focuses on equal opportunities matters, human rights matters, and civil justice matters including debt, evictions and family law.

Equality Outcomes

An equality outcome is a result which a listed authority aims to achieve in order to further one or more of the needs mentioned in the PSED. In other words, an equality outcome should further one or more of the following needs: eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.

Under regulation 4 of the SSDs, listed authorities are required to publish a set of equality outcomes every 4 years.

Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity

This group was established in 2020 to consider and inform the Scottish Government’s approach in relation to the impacts of COVID-19 on Minority Ethnic communities. This was in response to reports at a UK-wide and international level that some Minority Ethnic groups may be at risk of experiencing disproportionate effects, both in terms of adverse health outcomes and in a wider context, including economically.

Fairer Scotland Duty

Part of the Equality Act 2010, it places a legal responsibility on particular public bodies in Scotland to actively consider ('pay due regard' to) how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage, when making strategic decisions.

First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls

A council established in 2016 to advise the First Minister on what is needed to tackle gender inequality in Scotland.

Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

Legislation which sets a "gender representation objective" for the boards of certain Scottish public authorities that 50% of the board's non-executive members are women, and it requires appointing persons and public authorities to take certain steps towards achieving the objective.

Listed Authorities

The bodies subject to the Scottish Specific Duties are specified in the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (as amended).


The process of embedding equality and human rights considerations and practices in the course of all that we do when exercising public functions.

National Performance Framework

A framework designed for all of Scotland, which aims to:

  • Create a more successful country;
  • Give opportunities to all people living in Scotland;
  • Increase the wellbeing of people living in Scotland;
  • Create sustainable and inclusive growth; and
  • Reduce inequalities and give equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress.

Positive action

If a person reasonably thinks that people sharing a certain protected characteristic suffer a disadvantage connected to that characteristic or have different needs, or if their participation in work or other activity is disproportionately low, they can take any action (which would otherwise be discrimination against other people) which is a proportionate means of enabling or encouraging those people to overcome or minimise their disadvantage or to participate in work or other activities or meeting their needs.

Programme for Government

A report that the Scottish Government publishes every year at the beginning of September and sets out the actions we will take in the coming year and beyond. It includes the legislative programme for the next parliamentary year to drive forward change across all levels of society.

Protected Characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to discriminate against, victimise or harass someone because of a protected characteristic. These are: age, disability, race, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation. We all have at least one protected characteristic.

Relevant Protected Characteristics

Protected characteristics relevant to the Public Sector Equality Duty. Defined in Section 149(7) of the Equality Act 2010 as all characteristics listed above except marriage and civil partnership.

Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

Set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010. It consists of a general equality duty, supported by specific duties which are imposed by secondary legislation, which aims to integrate considerations of the advancement of equality into the day-to-day business of public authorities.

Scottish Specific Duties (SSDs)

Created by secondary legislation in the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, then amended in 2015 and 2016.

These duties are intended to help those authorities listed in the regulations in their performance of the general equality duty.

Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI)

A Scottish statutory instrument is subordinate legislation made by the Scottish Ministers or a regulatory authority in exercise of powers delegated by an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

Social Renewal Advisory Board

Established by the Scottish Government in June 2020 and featured a diverse range of people and voices tasked with developing recommendations to renew Scotland once we emerge from the pandemic.

Three needs of the PSED

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.



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