Equality guidance for charities:FAQs
Below you will find answers to our frequently asked questions on the Commission's draft Equality guidance for charities.
If you click on a question in the list below, you will be brought to the answer for that question. Alternatively, you can scroll down to read all of the questions and answers.
- Why is the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland producing guidance about equality?
- Is this guidance being produced because equality law has changed?
- Why is this guidance being consulted on and how do I participate?
- How does equality law apply to charities?
- Does the guidance cover employment law?
- Does the guidance cover charities that are also public authorities?
- Can a charity lawfully restrict its benefits to a particular group of people?
- Where do I go for more information and advice?
The Commission has produced this guidance to raise awareness among charity trustees and the public of how charity law and equality law in Northern Ireland overlap with each other.
Charity trustees have a duty to ensure their charity complies with the law. When setting up a new charity, registering a charity or running a charity, trustees must be aware of their obligations under all the legislation which may affect their charity.
In Northern Ireland, equality obligations are contained in a large number of pieces of legislation. This guidance will assist trustees to identify the equality obligations most relevant to their charity.
No, publication of this guidance does not mark a change in the law. Rather, it is intended to assist charity trustees in understanding the law as it stands.
Q. Why is this guidance being consulted on and how do I participate?
We are keen to gather views from those who will be using this guidance to ensure that it is of use. We would welcome everyone with an interest to engage in the consultation, visit the Current consultations page of our website for more information on how to get involved.
Equality legislation requires service providers, including charities, not to discriminate on certain grounds when they provide services to the public. There are, however, some exceptions for charities, which allow them to be established or operate for the benefit of certain groups of people, and not others.
No. The guidance does not cover equality in the context of employment law. The Useful Supporting documents section at the end of the guidance signposts to guidance that is available from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
No. The guidance does not cover equality in the context of charities that are also public bodies and who may have to have regard to duties under s.75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). The Useful Supporting documents section at the end of the guidance signposts to information that is available from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Q. Can a charity lawfully restrict its benefits to a particular group of people?
Yes, under certain circumstances. Many pieces of equality legislation provide an exception for charities. However, these exceptions have conditions attached to them. A charity can lawfully restrict its benefits to a group of people and not to others provided it meets the conditions set out in the relevant piece of legislation.
This guidance is not a full description of legal matters affecting your charity, nor is it a substitute for advice from a charity’s own professional advisers. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has also produced advice and guidance for service providers and employers. Their website can be found at www.equalityni.org (external link).