Comprehensive Equality Policy

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 the Public Sector Equality Duty. The overall aims of this policy are to:

1.1.1 Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation (these terms are defined in the Appendix) 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.

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

1.2 The council will pay due regard to these aims when we:

  • Provide services
  • Buy goods and services
  • Employ people
  • Work in partnership and;
  • Through our role in community leadership.

1.3. The council is committed to fair access and public service excellence. We are also committed to mainstreaming equality practices within our 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 arrangement and 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.

3. Overall policy statement

3.1. The council’s Statement of Commitment towards equal opportunities and diversity is as follows

We are committed to:

  • Removing unfair treatment
  • Promoting equality of opportunity and fair access
  • Fostering good relations between all people.

4. Employment

4.1. Vacancies for posts are normally concurrently advertised internally and externally and are placed on the council’s website and in media outlets considered reasonably accessible to all suitable candidates. Where the council believes there is an internal recruitment pool, vacancies are advertised internally only. In all circumstances the council is compliant with the Equality Act 2010.

4.2. Wherever possible, the council will ensure job information is available in alternative formats (not language) if requested.

4.3. The council will not request pre employment health checks prior to a job being offered.

4.4. Equality and Diversity awareness training will be available to all staff and elected members. All new members of staff are notified of their personal obligations to equality as part of the Council’s Induction process.

4.5. The council will apply the provisions in national and local conditions of service fairly. The council will give fair consideration to all reasonable requests for adjustment of working arrangements, subject to the requirements of maintaining an effective public service.

4.6. The council will ensure that due regard is paid to this policy in the development of employment policies, practices and/or working conditions to ensure there are no adverse impacts on protected characteristics amongst staff.

4.7. The council will ensure all employment policies and practices are reviewed as necessary to ensure they are fair and lawful.

4.8. The council will ensure the composition of the workforce is monitored, in accordance with the Employment: Statutory Code of Practice.

The council will analyse the results to detect any unhelpful trends, bias or discrimination. Workforce data will be published where appropriate, in line with the specific duties within the Public Sector Equality Duty.

4.9. Where under representation of any protected groups is identified, the council may consider using positive action measures.

4.10. The council will ensure that the gender pay gap is reported on, annually from 2017 data.

4.11. The council will be positive in examining whether reasonable adjustments can be made to working practices to overcome the barriers presented by disability.

4.12. The council will seek to ensure staff are engaged and consulted appropriately and proportionately.

4.13. The council will not prevent employees from seeking to establish if differences in pay, related to protected characteristics exist.

4.14. The council will monitor and fully investigate all complaints of discrimination, victimisation and harassment and take appropriate action.

4.15. The council will, at its discretion, implement schemes that support our commitment to inclusivity and the Public Sector Equality Duty

5. Procurement and service provision

5.1. The council aims to ensure that all services are free from prejudice and discrimination and are accessible to all.

5.2. The council will seek to ensure that all employees, contractors and partners have the information they need in order to provide equality of opportunity and that this is reflected in their conduct.

5.3. The council will require partners and contractors to have equal opportunity policies, and will proportionately seek sufficient information and evidence that compliance with equal opportunities legislation is undertaken.

5.4. Any organisation working for the council who commits an act of unjustified or unlawful discrimination, or allows discrimination to occur without taking appropriate action, may have their contract terminated.

5.5. The council will ensure customer information is collected and analysed - where appropriate, to monitor customer satisfaction and representation in the take up of services, guided by the publication Equality Information and the Equality Duty: A Guide for Public Authorities.

5.6. The council will ensure that due regard is paid to this policy in the development of services, policies and practices to identify potential impacts on protected characteristics. This will include using local and national demographic information (such as the Census, Indices of Multiple Deprivation, Labour Market Statistics) as well as local and national research reports.

5.7. The council will seek to ensure customers are engaged and consulted (including minority groups) appropriately and proportionately to the function in question.

5.8. The council will monitor and fully investigate all complaints of discrimination, victimisation and harassment and take appropriate action.

6. Responsibilities of council members

6.1. As decision makers, Councillors are responsible for discharging the council’s Public Sector Equality Duty and paying due regard to the three aims of this policy (set out in the policy statement).

6.2. All Councillors are responsible for promoting this policy and treating everybody fairly, with respect and promoting equality of opportunity.

7. Responsibilities of managers and staff

7.1. The Chief Executive is responsible for providing leadership in the overall implementation of this policy.

7.2. All Executive Directors and Heads of Service are responsible for implementing this policy in their service areas, allocating specific resources to ensure compliance.

7.3. Managers at all levels will set an example in non-discriminatory behaviour and are expected to ensure that staff are aware of the council’s policy and act in accordance with it.

7.4. All managers are responsible for implementing this policy and for addressing equality issues in their business planning and performance management activities in their areas.

7.5. All employees are responsible for ensuring they play their part in implementing this policy by treating all people fairly, with respect and promoting equality of opportunity.

7.6. All staff and managers are responsible in ensuring they make themselves available for mandatory equality training.

7.7. Officers responsible for advising Councillors in decision making are responsible for advising those decision makers of any impact on equality, to enable them to discharge the council’s Public Sector Equality Duty and make fully informed decisions

8. Failure to comply with this policy

8.1. Any cases of unfair treatment, harassment or victimisation as a result of a protected characteristic, whether actual, perceived or as a result of the victim being associated with someone with a protected characteristic will be taken very seriously by the council.

8.2. Job applicants, service users (customers), partners or anyone else who feel they have been subject to unfair discrimination can make a complaint under the council’s Complaints Procedure.

8.3. Employees who feel they have been subject to unfair discrimination can raise the issue informally with their line manager or any other senior manager or formally under the terms of the council’s Grievance Procedure.

8.4. Employees who are alleged to have committed an act of unfair discrimination or harassment may be liable to disciplinary action in accordance with the council’s Disciplinary Procedure, which may lead to the termination of employment.

8.5. Guidance and support will be available and provided to employees who are responsible for ensuring due regard to equality is paid through changes to, or the formation of new policies, services, functions, outsourcing or partnerships.

9. Monitor and review of this policy

9.1. Workforce data will be collected, analysed and published annually inline with the Specific Duties of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

9.2. The council will ensure that the gender pay gap is reported on annually from 2017 (first report will be published no later than 30th March 2018 and kept on the website for three years).

9.3. The council will monitor and fully investigate all complaints of discrimination, victimisation and harassment and take appropriate action.

9.4. This policy will be monitored annually and reviewed every three years.

Appendix

Types of unlawful discrimination

  • Direct (including by Associative and Perceptive)
  • Indirect
  • Harassment
  • Victimisation

Please see glossary below for definitions adopted by the council.

Glossary of Terms

Alternative formats (usually) written materials available in other ways, such as braille, large print, but can also be audio/visual.

Age a person belonging to a particular age (for example 32 year olds) or range of ages (for example 65 to 80 year olds).

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

Customer includes those receiving goods or services from the Council, our partners, Councillors and workforce. This includes all people and organisations that interact with the Council both internally and externally.

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.

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.

Disciplinary procedure is the process for employers to use in dealing with situations of employee misconduct and/or poor performance.

Diversity recognising and valuing people are different, from different backgrounds.

Due regard consciously considering the need to do the things set out in the general equality duty: eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.

Ethnicity/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.

Eliminate completely remove something (such as discrimination).

Equality of opportunity ensuring people have fair access regardless of a protected characteristic.

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

Grievance procedure is the process for concerns, problems or complaints that employees raise with their employer.

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 can 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.

Inclusivity means not excluding people, on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

Indirect discrimination can occur when there is 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, ie 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. This already applies to age, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation and marriage and civil partnership and is now extended to cover disability and gender reassignment.

Minority groups (see protected characteristics below).

Outsourcing means contracting out business.

Perceptive discrimination 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. This applies to age, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment and sex.

Policy is a statement of intent adopted by the Council.

Prohibited forbidden, not allowed or band.

Protected characteristics are: Age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy & maternity, marriage & civil partnership, race, religion/belief, sex; and sexual orientation.

Race a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.

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’.

Religion or belief includes any religion. It also includes a lack of religion, in other words people 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.

Reasonable adjustments changing things to help someone overcome disadvantage, if someone is put at a substantial disadvantage due to a disability.

Sex is the biological difference between men and women.

Sexual orientation means an individual’s sexual orientation towards:

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

Unjustified means something not right or reasonable.

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.