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The Role of the Equality Commission (Northern Ireland)

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

What is the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland?

The Equality Commission was set up in Northern Ireland in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement. It is an independent public body and it was set up to deal mainly with two things:

1. promoting equality in Northern Ireland

2. tackling discrimination in Northern Ireland

The Equality Commission has four key roles that it carries out. It:

1. Gives advice to individuals

If a person feels that they may have been discriminated against, the Equality Commission offers free and confidential advice and guidance to that person on their complaint.

2. Gives guidance to employers

The Equality Commission gives guidance to employers on what their obligations are under the law to promote equality. It also gives employers advice on what good practice is when highlighting equality issues in the workplace. This helps to reduce discrimination in the workplace.

3. Works with public bodies to promote equality

The Equality Commission encourages public bodies and organisations to make fairer and more equal decisions; to promote equality of opportunity for all that work for them and gives advice on how to address inequalities that may be happening.

4. Advises public bodies and government on policies The Equality Commission offers advice on policy making to ensure that equality is central to the policy. It monitors and reviews legislation and public policies to ensure that they do not breech equality legislation. This helps to safeguard the rights of individuals and minority groups and prevent discrimination.

The Equality Commission is a research and advisory body. It can advise on legislation and can recommend changes to comply with equality legislation. It does not make laws or pass laws.

The role of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is to ensure that people's fair treatment is guaranteed, that all people are protected against discrimination and to improve the lives of individuals so that they have better experiences.

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