Voluntary organisations that undertake public service contracts have been advised to check whether their contracts oblige them to implement the new Race Relations Amendment, which came into effect last week.
The Act, which gives public authorities or their agencies a statutory duty to promote equality and end discrimination through a racial equality scheme, could affect charities funded by local authorities or other public bodies.
Krishna Sarda, chief executive of the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, said local authorities may place responsibility for complying with the Act with the voluntary organisations that carry out contracted services.
Organisations would have to demonstrate to the local authority that they were fulfiling their obligations under the new law.
But Sarda said charities should implement the Act anyway as good practice.
"The sector will come under the Act sooner or later. This is a useful wake-up call,