The Benefits of Adopting the EQHRIA Good Practice Model

Business case

As an organisation embarks upon embedding the Good Practice Building Blocks it is helpful to recognise and acknowledge the rationale of an equality and human rights approach. 

Organisations may wish to adopt and promote these principles, or a version of these principles, as a statement of their commitment.  

Reflections from the practice pilot

Through the practice pilot participants and supporting partners have reflected the following through the evaluation study and follow up interviews with the Commissions:

“I think in this current climate, we have to take the opportunity to demonstrate to people that this isn’t an additional burden and actually by considering these issues at the start, you have the potential to look at more innovative ways of developing services, and develop services more effectively because they are actually based on what people need, not on what policy makers or planners think is the right thing to do.”

Dr James Harrison, University of Warwick

“The human rights perspective was new for a lot of us in our pilot assessment. It wasn’t scary though, once you broke it down to what the actual duties were and what the right actually meant you could apply it [to the situation]. So it’s just about taking the time to understand it [the right] and apply it to the service area you’re looking at.” 

Pamela Rennie, Renfrewshire Council

“By combining both together [equality and human rights] I think what we ended up with was the best of all possible worlds. This wasn’t reinventing the wheel, it shouldn’t be an added burden to individual officers. It should be a tool, which if used well, supports what you do and actually makes your job easier and makes the outcomes better."

Donald Macaskill, Equal and Diverse

It is recognised that integrating equality and human rights into governance, policy and decision making structures will help to:

  • Achieve better outcomes for people. Equality and human rights are core to achieving national and local performance outcomes which aim to improve the quality of life and opportunities for all people across Scotland.       

  • Improve performance. The consideration of human rights and equality issues will assist in improving performance in delivering high quality public services as efficiently, effectively and economically as possible as they will ensure they are responsive to people's circumstances at the point of delivery.         

  • Demonstrate accessibility and accountability. Where equality and human rights are assessed, based on evidence and the meaningful involvement of communities, stronger relationships will be built and it will be easier to demonstrate fairness, transparency, accessibility and accountability thereby enhancing public ownership and legitimacy in policy and decision making.         

  • Ensure compliance with the law. Proactively taking account of human rights and equality in the exercise of your functions will provide you with assurances rather than assumptions that actions are fair, not arbitrary, and that they comply with the law, preventing violations before they require redress and added expense.

Legal case

The Equality Act (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 introduced a specific duty on Scottish public authorities to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice against the needs of the general equality duty.

The general equality duty requires public authorities, in the exercise of their functions, to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010

  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not

  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

These requirements apply across the 'protected characteristics' of age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion and belief; sex and sexual orientation and to a limited extent to marriage and civil partnership.

The EHRC in Scotland has published non-statutory guidance which is aimed at those responsible for implementing the public sector equality duty in public authorities in Scotland, including Assessing impact and the public sector equality duty and this web resource is aligned with this published guidance.

The Human Rights Act 1998 makes it unlawful for a public body, or those carrying out a public function to act, or fail to act, in a way that is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. This means understanding human rights and taking them into account in all day to day work.

For further information on the legal framework please see the training resources.

Moral Case

The need to ensure that individuals and groups in society who may be the most vulnerable to disadvantage, inequality, discrimination and poverty are supported to live as fulfilled lives as possible is core to the public sector ethos as well as central to the equality and human rights framework.