1.1 The Organisation is committed to providing equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals. Employment with the Organisation will be based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. The Organisation will not condone discrimination in employment or related practices on the basis of any characteristics protected by law or otherwise.
1.2 The Organisation’s purpose for this policy is to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and improve the quality of life for all and in return will improve the quality of its workforce and the services they deliver. All employees whatever grade or authority must abide and adhere to this general principle.
1.4 This Policy forms part of the formal contract of employment for staff and part of the formal agreement between staff and the Organisation. All members of the Organisation must abide by this Policy and those in senior or managerial positions, or with specific responsibilities for recruitment, selection, training, appraisal and promotion, should be especially mindful of the Policy in those areas. Any failure to comply could result in disciplinary proceedings being taken.
1.5 The intention of this Policy is to build upon the statutory position and good practice, so that THE ORGANISATION reflects the diversity of our people, partners and the community we serve and to pursue an effective policy of promoting equal opportunity throughout the operations of the Organisation. The statutory position is set out in the Sex Discrimination Act (1975); the Equal Pay Act (1970); the Race Relations Act (1976), (Amendment) Act 2000; the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), the Employment Relations Act (1999 & 2002) and the Human Rights Act (1998) as well as other related legislation and best practice.
2.0 Statement of Intent on Equality and Diversity
2.1 The Organisation is fully committed to a policy of equality and diversity in all aspects of employment and development. The aim of the Organisation’s policy is to ensure that all job applicants and employees receive fair treatment regardless of sex, or sexual orientation, race, nationality, ethnic origins, colour, creed, religious beliefs, disability, carer responsibilities, disability, marital status, age, trade union or political beliefs.
2.2 We aim to recruit, retain and develop the best people based on their abilities to perform the job. Our employment conditions and requirements seek to reflect our commitment to equal opportunities.
2.3 The success of an Equality and Diversity Policy will involve the commitment and support of all managers and employees. All Managers/Directors will have a responsibility for ensuring the successful implementation of the policy within their own department. All Managers/Directors within the Organisation have a specific responsibility for ensuring that decisions affecting individuals are taken on non discriminatory grounds and that the Equality and Diversity Policy is communicated to all employees and that awareness and understanding is measured during performance reviews.
2.4 Potential penalties for the Organisation if we fail to comply with equal opportunities legislation are significant. The main acts acts on discrimination are:
- The Equal Pay Act 1970 (as amended)
- The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended)
- The Race Relations Act 1976(as amended)
- Criminal Justice and Public order Act 1994
- The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (amended 2005)
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
- Employment Relation Act 2000
- Anti Terrorism, crime and Security Act 2001
- Sexual Orientation Act 2003
- Religion or Belief Act 2003
- The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
2.5 The European Union has issued new directives under Article 13 of the European Treaty. A new article inserted as a result of the Treaty of Amsterdam, extended the EUs ability to legislate in the area of equal opportunities beyond that of just sex discrimination and equal pay. This has resulted in two new directives.
- The Race Directive prohibits race discrimination in employment and training, the provision of goods and services, education and social protection.
- The Employment Directive (2000) covers employment and vocational training and prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, religion, disability and age.
3.0 Roots of discrimination in stereotyping and prejudice
3.1 The Organisation recognises that discrimination has its roots very much in stereotyping and prejudice, and fundamentally in the distinction between in group (“us”) and the out-group (“them”). Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination are universal experiences, and all people will at least hold some stereotypes and prejudices, even if they are unaware of them. This is true regardless of the ethnic, cultural, national and religious backgrounds of staff, their gender, age, sexual orientation, occupation or disability.
3.2 Discrimination in the workplace can affect all facets of the organisation. The “negative effects” mean that the Organisation could hire the wrong people, undervalue and under–utilise the people we already employ, de-motivate existing employees, create resentment, reduce potential creativity and fail to serve the diverse communities we afford services to.
3.3 True, the law applies powerful sanctions where discrimination occurs, and the Organisation is aware of the possibility of massive compensation claims, bad publicity, etc; but this is possibly why the positive benefit to businesses is overlooked. If we take the law seriously, we can implement polices to create equality for all, if we properly train people so they understand what discrimination means and they know it will not be tolerated, then we may able to combat the “negative effects”- it is not a matter of law, its good employee relations practice which makes sound business sense.
3.4 The Organisation is committed to ensuring that directors, Line Managers and supervisors will need to be conversant with, equal opportunity is perhaps the most persuasive and least recognised. It is the most persuasive because an appreciation of such values should be enacted in everything that is done in the name of the Organisation, and is least recognised because it is a softer skill- one that does not readily lend itself to measurement
3.5 In simple, modern day terminology, “It is no brainier”- if the employees of the Organisation operate under the law, promotes equality for all and no employee or clients fears coming to work or using our services because of the threat of discriminatory behaviour, people will feel they are being treated fairly and will make a willing contribution to meeting business objectives.
3.6 In addition, there are powerful arguments for taking an equality and diversity approach to staff, colleagues and clients. There are many people from non-mainstream groups who may be able to increase the Organisations profile and income by accessing Organisation services. This is a matter for all departments and it will be implicated in any interface that employees have with the general public
4.0 Sex and Race Discrimination
4.1 The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976 render certain kinds of discrimination unlawful and have similar, often corresponding provisions. The acts make it unlawful to discriminate against job applicants (external and internal), the self-employees and contract workers
4.2 The Sex Discrimination Act makes discrimination unlawful on the grounds: (i) gender (male or female) (ii) marital status, or, (iii) “gender reassignment”. “Gender reassignment” covers: (i) people who have lodged a formal intention with a medical practitioner to go through the process of changing sex; (ii) those that are undergoing the process of gender reassignment; and (iii) those that have undergone the process.
4.3 The Race Relations Act makes discrimination on the grounds of: (i) race (Jewish, Arab, etc.); (ii) colour (black, white, yellow, skin tint, etc. (iii) nationality (citizenship, e.g. French, German); (iv) ethnic origin (Jewish, Romany gypsies, etc.) or (v) national origin (English, Welsh, a Greek Cypriot whose nationality is Cypriot, but whose origins are Greek).
5.0 Forms of Discrimination
5.1 Three types of discrimination are unlawful under both acts: (i) direct discrimination; (ii) indirect discrimination; and (iii) victimisation.
5.2 Direct discrimination occurs where a person is treated less favourably on the basis of sex, marital status or race when compared with the treatment of a person from the opposite sex, single person, or another race, respectively, in a situation where the circumstances were the same or not materially different.
5.3 The comparison test will also apply where there are no actual comparators; in these circumstances a hypothetical test will be applied if it can be shown that, for example, a man would have been treated more favourably than a women, this would be the basis of a discrimination claim.
5.4 Less favourable treatment on the grounds of pregnancy or a pregnancy related reason, such as illness arising from pregnancy would be deemed to be automatic sex discrimination.
5.5 In cases of direct discrimination on the basis of gender reassignment, the difference in treatment is will be judged by comparison, in actual or hypothetical situations, to persons who were not intending to undergo, undergoing, or undergone gender reassignment, where the relevant circumstances were the same or not materially different.
5.6 Indirect sex discrimination means applying a provision, criterion or practice to both sexes, but, which disadvantages a considerably larger proportion of one sex than the other, which causes a detriment of some kind and which cannot be objectively justified by the employer.
- Indirect race discrimination means applying a requirement or condition which appears to apply equally to everyone, but which in reality disadvantages people of a particular sex or race because they cannot comply with it and where the employer cannot objectively justify the requirement.
- Objective justification requires the Organisation to show: (i) a sound business reason for applying the provision/requirement; (ii) the means chosen were proportionate to the business needs; (iii) the benefits outweigh the discriminatory effect on the individual.
- The Organisation also believes that victimisation will occur where a person is treated less favourably because he or she carried out a “protected act”: i.e. (i) have alleged that discrimination has taken place; (ii) has presented a claim to an employment tribunal; OR (iii) has acted as a witness in a discrimination case.
- In victimisation cases the difference in treatment is compared with another person, actual or hypothetical, who has not committed a “protected act”.
6.0 Discrimination on Grounds of Disability
6.1 The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) (DDA) makes discrimination against disabled people for a reason related to their disability unlawful in employment and in the access to goods, facilities and services.
6.2 A disabled person is someone who has, or who has in the past, a “physical” or “mental” impairment that has, or has had, a substantial (more than minor or trivial) and long term (12 months) adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out “normal day to day activities”.
6.3 A “physical impairment” is not defined, but is taken to meaning malfunction of the body or the loss of a body part, e.g. a leg; a “mental impairment” is defined as a resulting from or consisting of a mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia) which is a clinically well recognised condition; a statutory guidance, to the DDA also points out that a mental learning disorder (e.g. dyslexia) can also come within this definition.
6.4 “ Normal day to day activities” are set out in a exhaustive list within the DDA; these are: mobility, manual dexterity, physical co ordination, continence, ability to lift, carry or move everyday objects; speech, hearing, or eyesight; ability to concentrate, memory, ability to learn or understand or, perception or the risk of physical danger.
6.5 People who suffer from progressive conditions, e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, HIV, AIDS, automatically come within the disabled person as soon the condition is diagnosed. The effect need not be substantial.
6.6 A person with an impairment, but which is controlled, for example by medication or prosthesis-epilepsy controlled by drugs, or a person with an artificial limb, comes within the definition, if, but for the controlling mechanism, there would be a substantial and adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
6.7 Alcoholics, drug addicts, addictive smokers, arsonists, kleptomaniacs, those that physically or sexually abuse others, exhibitionists, peeping toms, and hay fever sufferers are excluded from the definition.
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations (“the regulations”) are designed to amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the DDA) to brought UK disability in line with the Employment Directive on 1st October 2004.
6.9 Under current legislation, the first part of the discrimination makes it theoretically possible to justify discrimination against a disabled person purely for a reason relating to disability, where no duty to make adjustments applies, e.g. there is nothing about the disability preventing the individual from doing the job but they are refused employment because they are disabled- a person suffering from a terminal illness can do the job now, but he or she will die in 12 months time. The directive does not allow justification for discrimination against disabled people purely because they have a disability.
6.10 The amendment makes it clear that less favourable treatment cannot be justified if it occurs merely because an individual has a disability, rather than being based on consideration of those individual abilities. Whilst the act will continue to permit less favourable treatment where that is required by other legislation, the intention is to outlaw prejudicial treatment imposed simply because a person is disabled, such as a “Blanket Ban” on the employment of persons with a particular disability. Justification of such treatment has always been unlikely, but the sub section now makes it explicit.
6.11 A further new provision, however, makes clear that the prohibition of “discrimination” in the Act does not require the recruitment or maintenance in employment (or in an occupation) of a disabled person who is not able to perform the essential functions of the employment or occupation concerned (even after any duty to make reasonable adjustments has been complied with). The provision is intended as an aid to interpretation, or “pointer”, making clear that a decision not to recruit (or to dismiss) such a disabled person is not treatment prohibited by the provisions set out above.
6.12 Harassment – The current legislation does not currently mention harassment as a distinct form of discrimination. The Regulations amend the DDA to make harassment for a reason relating to disability an unlawful act of discrimination.
7.1 The Organisation recognises that discrimination relating to a persons disability is unlawful in respect of job applicants (external and internal), employees, contract/agency workers and service users.
- There are two types of unlawful discrimination: direct and victimisation. Direct discrimination occurs where a disabled person is treated less favourably for a reason relating to disability, compared with a hypothetical person to whom the reason does not apply and the less favourable treatment cannot be justified.
- The Organisation respects the need to ensure that working arrangements or physical features of the Organisation premises involve consideration and the need to make reasonable adjustments to remove any barrier to employment and it is not met it can be fully justified.
- A duty to make reasonable adjustments will arise where working arrangements, or any features of the premises, place a disabled employee or a disabled candidate at a substantial disadvantage (see below).
- Less favourable treatment can only be justified id the reason for the difference in treatment is both material (significant and relevant) to the circumstances and substantial (more than trivial or minor).
- Victimisation occurs where a person is treated less favourably because he or she carried out a “protected act”: i.e. (I) has alleged that discrimination has taken place; (ii) has presented a claim to an employment tribunal; or, (iii) has acted as a witness in a discrimination case; the complainants treatment is compared with another person, actual or hypothetical, who has not committed a “protected act”.
- It is against the law for an employer to treat “people with a disability” less favourably than someone else because of their disability, unless there is good reason. This applies to all employment matters, including recruitment, training, promotion and dismissal.
- Duty to make reasonable adjustments
8.1 The DDA places a duty on the Organisation to make reasonable adjustments to working arrangements or physical features of the premises, which place a disabled employee or a disabled job applicant at a substantial disadvantage; this is designed to help disabled employees to overcome the practical effects of their disability.
8.2 The duty does not arise if the Organisation is not aware, or could not be reasonably expected to know, that a disabled person has (or has had) a disability and is likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage.
8.3 Section 6 (3) of the DDA gives examples of steps, which the Organisation would have to comply with the duty, e.g. structural or physical changes, allocating some of the disabled persons duties to another person, transferring the disabled person to fill an existing vacancy, etc.
8.4 Where the duty applies, the Organisation may be able to justify not making the adjustment on the basis that: (i) it was not reasonable or practicable, e.g. cost, disruption, etc; (ii) the only reasonable adjustment that could be made would make no difference, as the individual would still remain disadvantaged.
8.5 Under the draft Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations (“the regulations”) are designed to amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995(the DDA) to bring UK disability in line with the Employment Directive. The regulations will came in to force 1st October 2004.
8.6 Indirect discrimination – There is no current provision for indirect discrimination in the DDA. The Act will now make it clear that the duty to make adjustments (other than adjustments to the physical features of premises) is to extend to “any provision, criterion, or practice” applied by the Organisation which “places the disabled person concerned” at a substantial disadvantage compared with non-disabled persons. The amendment applies an approach to indirect discrimination allowed for in the directive specifically applying to disability cases. So where is reasonable to do so, the Organisation will be required to modify (or even disapply) any provision, criterion or practice which causes more than a minor or trivial disadvantage to particular disabled employee to the extent needed to remove the disadvantage. For example, if it is reasonable to do so, the Organisation may have to vary a rule under which all employees have to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – in order to allow a disabled employee to work flexible hours to allow additional breaks to overcome fatigue arising from the disability. But it will not be necessary for the Organisation to show that the fixed hours rule is objectively justified, as the Organisation would have to do so in cases of indirect discrimination in other areas of discrimination law- the directive allows for this.
9.0 Age Discrimination
9.1 It is an integral part of this policy to recruit and retain employees whose skills, experience, approach and attitude are appropriate to the requirements of the various positions, regardless of age. Except in the most exceptional circumstances, no age requirements will be given in job advertisements or the specifications provided for a recruitment agency (or similar). Although details of age will be sought as part of the routine compilation of personal data, they will not be used to determine appropriateness for appointment, or promotion within the organisation. The Organisation recognises that some older people may find it difficult to adapt to major changes in the working environment. In such circumstances, every effort will be made to respond to individual needs. The Organisation is committed to following and implementing the Code of Practice issued by the ACAS in May 2006.
- Sexual Orientation, Religion Or Belief
10.1 The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 in so far as they relate to employment. The regulations are designed to implement legislation making discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion and belief unlawful to comply with the Employment directive.
11.0 Other Legal Implications & Taking Reasonable Steps
11.1 Organisation Liability – The Organisation will be liable for acts of discrimination committed by employees during the course of employment with or without the Organisation knowledge or approval.
11.2 The Organisation could be liable for acts of discrimination at events which are held outside of work time involving employees who are held outside work time involving employees, but where the nature of the event is directly linked to work, e.g. a leaving party to say farewell to a colleague.
11.3 The Organisation can also be liable for discrimination committed by third parties if the discriminatory act was reasonable foreseeable and/ or when it occurred the Organisation/employee did nothing to prevent it.
11.4 The Organisation can defend a claim and escape liability by arguing that reasonable steps were taken to prevent discrimination occurring or re- occurring.
11.5 There is no minimum length of service necessary to bring a claim nor is there any age restriction
11.6 Any complaint must be presented within three months of the date of act of discrimination occurring; a continuing act of discrimination lasting throughout an applicant’s employment would be treated as having been committed at the end of employment.
12.0 Grievance Procedure (See also separate Grievance Policy)
12.1 The Organisation has an agreed procedure for dealing with grievances relating to a particular issue or situation; all staff is advised that the grievance procedure should be followed accordingly. The aim of the procedure is to ensure the worries and anxieties of staff are articulated and understood with a view to maintaining a high level of morale and reaffirming that the Organisation is a caring employer.
13.0 Employment of Ex – Offenders
13.1 The Organisation is exempt from the provisions of Section 4 (2) of the Rehabilitation of Offender’s Act 1874(Exceptions) order 1975. Therefore, it is permissible for the Organisation to request information on any “spent” convictions of applicants and employees under the provisions of the Act. In the event of employment any failure to disclose such convictions could result in an offer of employment being withdrawn or the employment being terminated.
14.0 Non Employment /Employment on grounds of Blood born viruses
14.1 In dealing with potential and existing employees, the Organisation will not knowingly employ an employee that carries blood born viruses in at risk occupations, where the health and safety of themselves and others is at risk.
14.2 The Organisation will only take account of whether individuals have blood born viruses, including HIV infection or AIDS, if they are likely to put at risk the health and safety of themselves or others or they are affected in their ability to work satisfactorily. Employees are expected to work normally with and alongside anyone who has a blood born virus and to treat them as they would any other employee.
15.1 Harassment can be described as inappropriate actions, behaviour, comments or physical contact that is objectionable or causes offence to the recipient. The Organisation recognises that it can take many forms, occur on a wide variety of grounds and may be directed at an individual or group of people. It may be of a sexual or racial nature or it may be directed towards people because of their age their sexuality, a disability (either physical or mental), or some other feature or characteristic. Such behaviour is not acceptable and neither is it excused on the grounds that the harasser did not intend it.
15.2 The Organisation has a separate policy and procedure on “Anti-Harassment” of which employees should be aware. The policy allows for employees to raise an informal or formal complaint where they believe that they have been subject to harassment or bullying at work. It is the right of every employee to work in an environment that is free from harassment or bullying.
16.0 Training and Development
16.1 The Organisation will review, and where appropriate, introduce new equal opportunities related training and development initiatives in order to under pin and support the Equality and Diversity Policy.
16.2 All members of staff will have a personal learning and development plan within the Personal Development Review. All applications for further training will be treated equally in terms of providing development opportunities.
17.1 Staff involved in recruitment will ensure they adhere to the policy and will be made aware of the importance of non-discriminatory practices. Recruitment will always be initiated by an external and internal advertisement; except in periods of rationalisation and where it has been decided not to advertise externally then the advertisement must clearly state that the applicants will only be considered from existing permanent employees of the Organisation.
17.2 The Organisation supports government policy and commitments to removing barriers to the full participation of disadvantaged groups in the development of THE ORGANISATION. Recognising that disadvantage is linked to factors such as ethnic, gender or disability. The Organisation undertakes to take action designed to enable people from disadvantaged in this way to overcome these barriers. Such access programmes will be instituted in accordance with positive actions and National guidance standards.
17.3 In accordance with the Disability symbol commitments to persons with disabilities, an applicant who meets the essential criteria for a particular position will be guaranteed an interview, they will be considered on their abilities and reasonable adjustments will be made for disabled candidates. Letters inviting applicants for interview will include a statement asking about any special arrangements that may be required by an applicant with a disability.
18.0 Flexible Working
18.1 The Organisation policy is that all jobs in the service are designated as potential job share. In addition other flexible arrangements will be considered which will make a significant contribution to help attract, recruit and retain staff.
19.0 Monitoring Equality and Diversity in Practice
19.1 The existence of an Equality and Diversity Policy is not, in itself, enough to ensure genuine equality of opportunity. It is also necessary to implement the policy and to measure the success or failure of its implementation. Effective monitoring and evaluation is essential.