Comprehensive Equality Policy

Please note: This policy is currently under review and will be re-published once approved.

This policy sets out the council's commitment to its customers - both internally and externally regarding equal opportunity and diversity.


1. Purpose

1.1. This policy sets out the council’s commitment to its customers - both internally and externally regarding equal opportunity and diversity. The overall driver of this policy is customer access and customer care and includes how the council will:

1.1.1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010.

1.1.2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

1.1.3. Foster good relations between persons who share a protected characteristic and those who do not share it.

1.2. This Policy applies where the council engages with its customers where it:

  • Provides services
  • Buy goods and services
  • Employs people
  • Acts as a ‘community leader’.

1.3. The council is committed to a comprehensive policy which includes fair access and customer service and mainstreams equality practices within democratic activity, service planning and delivery and all human resource processes.

2. Scope

2.1. The Protected Characteristics (as laid down in the Equality Act 2010) are: Age, Disability, Gender Reassignment, Marriage/Civil Partnership, Pregnancy and Maternity, Race, Religion/Belief, Sex and Sexual Orientation.

2.2. This policy applies to councillors and employees, contractors and placements regardless of any protected characteristic, working part time, fixed term or temporary, membership of trade union or public interest disclosure status.

2.3. This policy also applies to the services the council provides, including the treatment of our customers.

2.4. This policy will be reviewed annually and will be amended as required to ensure it continues to meet legal requirements.

3. Policy

The council’s statement of commitment towards equal opportunities and diversity is as follows;

“Our mandate is to build a safe, just, tolerant and equal society for everyone in the Borough. All councillors, employees and those acting on behalf of the council are responsible for implementing our Comprehensive Equality Policy and have a continuing duty to challenge discrimination”.

4. Employment

4.1. Management development and training will concentrate on both employment protocols and the inclusion of equality into service provision.
4.2. Equality and diversity awareness training will be available for all staff, elected members and service partners to attend as well as induction training for all newcomers.
4.3. Vacancies for permanent jobs are normally advertised internally and externally concurrently and are placed on the council’s website and in media outlets, which aim to be reasonably accessible to all suitable candidates.
4.4. Wherever possible, the council will provide job information in alternative formats if requested.
4.5. The council will be positive in examining whether reasonable adjustments can be made to working practices to overcome the barriers presented by disability.

4.6. The council will apply fairly the provisions in national and local conditions of service. The council will give fair consideration to all reasonable requests for adjustment of working arrangements to accommodate child care responsibilities, subject always to the requirements of maintaining an effective public service.
4.7. The council will continue to develop employment policies which are consistent and reasonable and which do not result in less favourable treatment for any employee on the grounds identified above.
4.8. Human Resources will regularly review all employment policies and practices to ensure they are fair and lawful.
4.9. The council will monitor the composition of the workforce, council complaints and consultation feedback, in accordance with the code of practice for the Public Sector Equality Duty (2011). The council will also monitor applications for vacancies during the recruitment process to ensure all sections of society are applying (the purpose of this is to be able to analyse the results and detect any unhelpful trends, bias or discrimination) and also, so that we can continue to deliver our “Disability Two Ticks Scheme” obligations.
Workforce data will be published in line with the Public Sector Equality Duty. The council will aim to achieve a representative workforce at all levels.
4.10. The council will not request pre employment health checks however will continue to monitor diversity throughout the recruitment process.
4.11. The council does not prevent or restrict employees from having a discussion to establish if differences in pay exist that are related to protected characteristics but does reserve the right to require employees to keep pay rates confidential from some people outside the workplace such as a competitor organisation.

5. Service provision and procurement

5.1. The council will ensure that all services are equally accessible to all people and are free from prejudice and discrimination.  This will be achieved via the council’s Corporate Strategy and in addition to training and integrating equality into service provision.
5.2. The council aims to make sure that all employees and contractors have the information they need in order to provide equality of opportunity and that this is reflected in their conduct.  The council will require partners and contractors to have equal opportunity policies, and will seek sufficient information and evidence that compliance with equal opportunities legislation is genuine.
5.3. The council will fully investigate and monitor all complaints of discrimination, victimisation and harassment and take appropriate action.

6. Responsibilities of council members

6.1. Council members will ensure that the overall policy is implemented and integrated into service action plans as part of continual service review and best value processes.

6.2. The overview and scrutiny committees will monitor equality objectives and ensure adherence to national performance targets/indicators.

7. Responsibilities of managers and staff

7.1. Management and supervisors at all levels will be expected to set an example in non-discriminatory behaviour and to ensure that staff are aware of the council’s policy and act in accordance with it.  All new and existing staff will be notified of their personal obligations as part of the council’s induction training under the policy. The notification will include reference to the serious disciplinary consequences that could result if they:
7.1.1. Discriminate, in the course of their employment, against other employees, job applicants or members of the public, or harass them or otherwise behave towards them in ways which are unwanted, unwelcome and unreciprocated;
7.1.2. Induce, or attempt to induce, other employees to practice unlawful discrimination;
7.1.3. Victimise individuals who have made allegations or complaints of discrimination, or provided information about such discrimination.
7.2. The council has a Dignity at Work Policy & Procedure to handle complaints of unacceptable behaviour relating to this policy; complaints relating to members are handled through the member/officer relations protocol and the code of conduct for members of Havant Borough Council.
7.3. The management team is responsible for approving action plans emanating from service reviews and annual business planning. Management will ensure equality objectives are included within service and business action plans.

8. Customer and equality impact assessments

8.1. The council will conduct equality impact assessments on relevant policies and functions with due regard to the protected characteristics.
8.2. These assessments are a systematic way of finding out whether a policy, service or strategy will have an adverse impact for any particular group. The process is designed to tackle the long term challenge of removing “institutional discrimination” from the public sector, and ensure that polices, services and strategies do not unfairly discriminate.
8.3. Guidance and training will be provided to employees who are responsible for undertaking Equality Impact Assessments.

8.4. Results of the council’s Equality Impact Assessments will be published on the website.

9. Related policies and procedures

  • Corporate Strategy
  • Whistle Blowing Policy
  • Members/Officers Relations Protocol.
  • Code of Conduct for Councillors
  • Grievance Procedure
  • Procurement Guidelines

Appendix - Glossary including definitions of discrimination

Appendix A - Glossary including definitions of discrimination A1 direct discrimination -Occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic

A2 Associative discrimination - Applies to race, religion or belief and sexual orientation, age, disability, gender reassignment and sex. This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.

A3 Perceptive discrimination - Applies to age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment and sex. This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic. It applies even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic.

A4 Indirect discrimination - Applies to age, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation and marriage and civil partnership, disability and gender reassignment. Indirect discrimination can occur when you have a condition, rule, policy or even a practice in an organisation that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if you can show that you acted reasonably in managing your business, i.e. that it is ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. A legitimate aim might be any lawful decision you make in running your business or organisation, but if there is a discriminatory effect, the sole aim of reducing costs is likely to be unlawful. Being proportionate really means being fair and reasonable, including showing that you’ve looked at ‘less discriminatory’ alternatives to any decision you make.

A5 Harassment - Is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”. Harassment applies to all protected characteristics except for pregnancy and maternity and marriage and civil partnership. Employees will now be able to complain of behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directed at them, and the complainant need not possess the relevant characteristic themselves. Employees are also protected from harassment because of perception and association.

A6 Third party harassment - Applies to sex, age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The Equality Act makes an employer potentially liable for harassment of your employees by people (third parties) who are not employees of their company, such as customers or clients. Will only be liable when harassment has occurred on at least two previous occasions, they are aware that it has taken place, and have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again.

A7 Victimisation - Occurs when an employee is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act; or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint.

A8 Race - the current legal definition of a racial group is a group of people defined by their race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origins.

A9 An ethnic minority community - Is an ethnic group that is numerically smaller than the predominant white group in Britain. This includes groups distinguished by their skin colour, as well as those such as Irish, Turkish, Cypriot, Eastern European and Travelling people.

A10 Disability - a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, which would include things like using a telephone, reading a book or using public transport. People who have had a disability in the past are also protected.

A11 Gender reassignment – A transsexual person is someone who proposes to, starts or has completed a process to change his or her gender.

A12 Sex – Is the biological difference between men and women.

A13 Sexual Orientation - Means an individual’s sexual orientation towards:

  • People of the same sex (gay or lesbian).
  • People of the opposite sex (heterosexual).
  • People of both sexes (bisexual).

A14 Racial Incident - In respect of race equality the council has adopted the Macpherson definition of a racial incident, i.e. ‘a racial incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’.

A15 Religion or belief - Religion includes any religion. It also includes a lack of religion, in other words employees or jobseekers are protected if they do not follow a certain religion or have no religion at all. Additionally, a religion must have a clear structure and belief system. Belief means any religious or philosophical belief or a lack of such belief. To be protected, a belief must satisfy various criteria, including that it is a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour. Denominations or sects within a religion can be considered a protected religion or religious belief. Humanism is a protected philosophical belief but political beliefs would not be protected. Discrimination because of religion or belief can occur even where both the discriminator and recipient are of the same religion or belief.