Building block 3: Staff, Training and Resources

Vital to the success of EQHRIA are:

1. The staff who undertake assessments

2. The training that those staff receive

3. Resources available to staff to enable them to undertake assessments including databases of relevant evidence and examples of good practice.

Organisations should make sure that they have put in place appropriate staffing, training and resources to effectively support the assessment process.

Reflections on training, resources and support from pilot:

“…we should never assume when we are looking at undertaking an impact assessment that everybody that would be involved in the assessment would have equality and human rights awareness and they have the expertise or they can look through the equality and human rights lens…..We are quite familiar with looking at vulnerable and marginalised but we don’t connect that through the lens of equality and human rights.”

“To build that knowledge, what Renfrewshire has done as part of this the pilot project, one of the spin-offs has been that we have developed an e-learning module.” Yasmeen Khan, Senior Policy Officer, Renfrewshire Council


  • Why are staff, training and resources to support assessments important?

The business case

 Public authorities will only obtain robust and meaningful EQHRIA that improve policy outcomes if they provide EQHRIAs with appropriate levels of staffing, training and resources to support assessments.

The legal case

There is no legal requirement under The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 regarding training and resources. However a court could consider non-statutory guidance published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, including Assessing impact and the public sector equality duty when deciding whether the actions of an authority have been reasonable.

This guidance explains how appropriate training and resources support assessment of impact which is robust.


  • What are the practical considerations?

There is no single model for conducting an EQHRIA in all subject areas. For instance, an EQHRIA of a particular transport policy will require a completely different form of knowledge and expertise from an EQHRIA of a particular housing policy. Different organisations will also develop different models of undertaking EQHRIAS depending on their existing practices and procedures, for instance, does primary responsibility for undertaking the EQHRIA lie with the subject specialist (housing, transport etc.) or the specialist in human rights and equality? Public authorities will therefore develop different models for how they undertake assessments accordingly. But all public authorities must think at a strategic level about three key issues in relation to EQHRIA:

1. The staff who undertake EQHRIAs

2. The training that those staff receive

3. Resources available to staff undertaking EQHRIAs

Each of these issues are discussed below in turn:

1. The Staff who Undertake EQHRIAs

Public authorities should put in place a process for evaluating the staffing levels that are required for each EQHRIA. There should be an identifiable lead for any EQHRIA, responsible for undertaking and recording the EQHRIA. Senior managers should consider the size and complexity of the EQHRIA and as a result identify:

  • the most appropriate person to undertake this lead role,       

  • the time needed by that person to undertake the assessment,    

  • and whether there is a need for other staff to play a supporting role.

2. Training for Assessors

There should be a training programme put in place to support those undertaking EQHRIAs. The training programme will differ depending on the organisational context, and so the first step for any public authority will be to undertake an evaluation of training needs. The most important question in deciding on the training required will be where primary responsibility for undertaking the EQHRIA lies (with the subject specialist or the specialist in human rights and equality).

Training should be appropriate to the particular responsibilities of the staff involved, and tailored to the authority’s own method for assessing impact. It is likely that your organisation will have training arrangements in place and so you may wish to refresh or adapt this training (e.g. to ensure that it supports the impact assessments requirements of the new equality duty and incorporates consideration of human rights).

Training should focus on the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ of impact assessments. This means that it should not simply focus on how the assessment process is completed (screening, evidence gathering etc.) It should also explain the importance of the equality and human rights obligations and the issues they are likely to uncover. The training should not only include key human rights and equality principles (e.g. proportionality), it should also provide concrete examples of the sorts of issues that might arise in the organisation (or department) undertaking assessments and how human rights and equality principles are applied in that context.

Those who are undertaking assessments who are not human rights and equality specialists will require significant on going training and/or support from equality and human rights specialists while they are undertaking the EQHRIA. Training should be delivered on a regular basis to cover new staff and decision-makers and to provide refresher training for existing staff and decision-makers.

3. Resources to Support EQHRIAs

It is important that resources are developed which are specific to the needs of particular organisations and the people who will be using them.  For example, materials that are relevant to the assessment of the policies of a hospital will be very different from those of a prison. Even different departments in public authorities will require different support and guidance. For instance a department in a local authority responsible for adult social care will have very different needs from a department dealing with housing policy.

Organisations often produce toolkits, guidance and other materials which are generic, abstract and focus on guiding assessors through the process of undertaking an assessment (screening, consultation, evidence gathering etc.)  These may not necessarily be helpful in practice to individual assessors trying to understand the relevance of their policy or decision to equality and human rights and may lead to an increased reliance on specialised support.

In practice the two most important resources for assessors are likely to be:

  1. Examples of Good Practice and Other Context-Specific Guidance

  2. A Database of Relevant Evidence and Statistics that can be used in the Assessment Process.

1. Examples of Good Practice and Other Context-Specific Guidance

The best examples of good practice are completed EQHRIAs which are relevant to the department/organisation in question. These can then become models for how assessments should be undertaken and applied accordingly. Any other guidance which is produced should be as specific as possible to the issues faced by the assessor. For instance it should concentrate on demonstrating how to apply human rights and equality principles to specific relevant scenarios; and identify the particular groups and individuals who should be the focus of any consultation and the barriers to engaging with them. Illustrations showing how EQHRIA have led to improved policy outcomes are also useful to demonstrate the potential value of the assessment. EQHRIA guidance should also include comprehensive sections on the sort of evidence that might be required (with specific examples) and where that evidence can be found.

2. Databases of Relevant Evidence and Statistics that can be used in the Assessment Process.  

The collection of evidence is vital to support a robust and meaningful EQHRIA (see building block 6). Often sources of evidence will be difficult to find and complicated to interpret (e.g. data on the Office of National Statistics website, or long narrative reports produced by government departments). It is inefficient and unfeasible to expect each assessor as part of an individual EQHRIA process to gather together this evidence independently from original sources.

Evidence needs to be made available to assessors in such a way that it can be easily used in the assessment process, for instance by summarising long reports or providing accessible direct links to relevant data sources. Public authorities should therefore develop databases of relevant evidence and statistics. Individual departments or small organisations are unlikely to have the resources to develop such databases independently. Therefore organisations should consider creating shared resource databases (for instance NHS boards or local authorities creating databases of relevant information jointly with other boards/authorities across the country etc.)

Pilot practice examples:

In Renfrewshire training was delivered in equality and human rights to council officers across services. Additionally, officers within the Chief Executive’s Service developed a knowledge hub consisting of a wide range of evidence on Renfrewshire’s diverse population, key issues and emerging trends (see building block 6 on evidence gathering ) and impact assessment support, information and guidance is being developed for publication on the Council’s intranet Renfo. Furthermore, capacity building packages are being developed to advance thinking, understanding and knowledge of equality and human rights.

For further information on the steps taken by the pilot Councils to support staff through training and available resources see the pilot reports.

For learning materials on equality and human rights.  

For links to other human rights training resources.

For context specific examples on human rights impacts relating to welfare reform and lone parents in Fife or proposals relating to Advice services in Renfrewshire.