Public Sector Equality Duty: specific duties in Scotland

Published: 11 May 2022

Last updated: 11 May 2022

What countries does this apply to?

  • Scotland

As well as the general duty, the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) regulations set out additional specific duties that are different in England, Scotland and Wales.

This section is about the specific duties that apply to Scottish public authorities listed in the Schedule to The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, as amended. We refer to these authorities as ‘listed authorities’ in this guidance.

We have collated a list of the relevant Regulations for the specific duties. View the relevant Regulations.

To check if your organisation must comply, go to this list of public authorities in Scotland who are subject to the specific duties.

England and Wales

You can find more information here on the specific duties in Wales and the specific duties in England and for non-devolved bodies. The general duty applies to all nations.

How to comply with the specific duties

Listed authorities who are subject to Scottish specific duties are required to:

  1. report on mainstreaming the equality duty
  2. publish equality outcomes and report progress
  3. assess and review the equality impact of policies and practices
  4. gather, use and publish employee information
  5. use information on the characteristics of members or board members gathered by the Scottish Ministers 
  6. publish gender pay gap information
  7. publish equal pay statements
  8. consider award criteria and conditions in relation to public procurement
  9. publish in a manner that is accessible

There is also a duty on Scottish Ministers to publish proposals for activity that enables listed authorities to improve their performance of the general duty.
The reports, assessments and information that you publish must be accessible to the public.

The purpose of the specific duties is to help listed authorities improve their
performance on the general duties. However, complying with the specific duties does
not necessarily mean that you are having due regard to the needs of the general duty in all the work that you do.

Reporting on mainstreaming the equality duty

Mainstreaming the equality duty means making sure your organisation considers equality issues in everything it does, and how you make decisions.

You must publish a report at least every two years on the progress your organisation has made to integrate the three needs of the general duty in all its functions.  

This report must include:

  • an annual breakdown of the information gathered under the duty to gather and use employee information
  • details of the progress made in using this information to improve performance of the general duty

Go to our guidance on mainstreaming the equality duty.

Publishing equality outcomes and reporting on progress

An equality outcome is a measurable result that a listed authority aims to achieve to in order to further one or more of the needs of the general duty.

You must publish a set of equality outcomes at least every four years.

You must also publish a report on the progress made to achieve your equality outcomes every two years

You must take reasonable steps to involve people with relevant protected characteristics and the organisations who represent their interests when preparing your equality outcomes. You must also consider relevant equality evidence. If a listed authority’s set of equality outcomes does not further the needs of the general duty for every relevant protected group, you must publish the reasons for this.

For more information go to our guidance on:

Assessing and reviewing policies and practices

When you are developing proposed new, or revised policies or practices, you must assess the impact of your proposals against all three of the needs of the general duty. This means making sure that the proposal does not unlawfully discriminate and thinking about how it will help to advance equality and foster good relations. Assessing the equality impact will help you to shape policies and practices so they meet the needs of everyone.

Your assessment must consider relevant evidence relating to people with protected characteristics. For example, research by disabled peoples’ organisations.

In developing a policy or practice, you must take the results of your assessment into account and consider taking action to address any issues identified. This means that you must give proper weight to equality issues when considering them alongside other statutory duties. Decision-makers must scrutinise whether their impact assessments give them enough information to pay due regard to the general duty when making final decisions about policies.

If your organisation decides to implement the new or revised policy, you must publish the results of your assessment within a reasonable time. You must also make arrangements to review and, if necessary, revise existing policies or practices.

For more information go to our guidance on:

Gathering and using employee information

You must take steps to gather information about the protected characteristics of your employees. You must also gather annual information on the recruitment, development and retention of staff with relevant protected characteristics.

You must use this information to improve your organisation’s performance of the general duty and include an annual breakdown of the information gathered and details of the progress on equality that you have made by gathering and using this information in your mainstreaming report.

For more information go to our guidance on:

Publishing information on the protected characteristics of members

Scottish Ministers are required to gather information on the protected characteristics of the members, or board of management, of some public authorities. Ministers must provide the information they gather to the public authority. If this duty applies to you, you must publish:

  • the number of men and women who have been members of the authority
  • demonstrate how you have used, and intend to use, the information to ensure diversity in relation to the protected characteristics of those members

This duty only applies to some public authorities. Go to our guidance on who is covered by the Scotland specific duties to find out if a public authority is covered by this duty.

Publishing gender pay gap information

The gender pay gap is the difference in average pay between men and women in your workforce. It is different to equal pay, which means you must pay men and women the same for equal or similar work.

Public authorities with 20 or more employees must use the most recent data available to publish the percentage difference between men’s average hourly pay (excluding overtime) and women’s average hourly pay (excluding overtime) every two years.

You do not need to publish gender pay gap information if your organisation has not had 20 employees at any point since these regulations came into force or since publication was last due.

For more information go to our guidance on Employee Information and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Publishing equal pay statements

As set out in the Equality Act 2010, employees in the same workplace performing equal work must receive equal pay, unless any difference in pay can be justified. Go to our guidance on equal pay.

Public authorities with 20 or more employees must publish an equal pay statement every four years. 

Your equal pay statement must contain:

  • your organisation’s policy on equal pay
  • information on occupational segregation

Occupational segregation is when people with the same protected characteristics mostly work at particular pay grades or in particular occupations.

Your equal pay policy and occupational segregation information must include detail about:

  • women and men
  • disabled and non-disabled people
  • people who are from ethnic minority groups and those who are not

For more information read our guide Employee Information and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Consider award criteria and conditions in procurement

Award criteria is how a public authority scores a bid when procuring goods or services.

When procuring goods or services for a public authority, you must, in some circumstances have due regard to whether you need to consider any equality issues in your:

  • award criteria
  • specified performance conditions (if applicable)

For more information go to our guidance on public procurement.

Duty on Scottish Ministers

Scottish Ministers must publish proposals every four years for activity that helps public authorities’ improve performance on the general duty.

Scottish Ministers must also publish a report on progress made on their last proposal, after two years.

Document downloads

Page updates

Advice and support

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

The EASS is an independent advice service, not operated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

Or email using the contact form on the EASS website.
phone icon

Call the EASS on:

0808 800 0082