Equal opportunities policy template6 minute read
The Equal Opportunities Policy provides specific protection to the Company in respect of the Age Discrimination Regulations that came into force in October 2006.
This Policy follows ACAS guidelines to comply with the Age Discrimination Regulations, and fulfils requirements previously required by the Sex, Race and Disability Discrimination Acts and other relevant Regulations.
What is an Equal opportunities policy?
The purpose of an equal opportunities policy is to ensure that all employees and job applicants are treated fairly and without discrimination, regardless of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic.
The main objectives of an equal opportunities policy are:
To eliminate discrimination: The policy aims to eliminate any form of discrimination in recruitment, promotion, training, or any other aspect of employment.
To promote diversity: The policy seeks to promote diversity in the workplace by encouraging applications from underrepresented groups and creating a welcoming and inclusive work environment.
To comply with the law: The policy ensures that the employer complies with relevant anti-discrimination legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010 in the UK.
To promote fairness and inclusion: The policy aims to create a fair and inclusive workplace where all employees feel valued and respected.
To prevent harassment and bullying: The policy sets out a zero-tolerance approach to harassment and bullying, and provides guidance on how to report and address such behavior.
An equal opportunities policy is an important tool in promoting diversity and creating an inclusive workplace culture. It helps to prevent discrimination and ensures that all employees have the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their background or personal characteristics.
What legal and best practice aspects should employers be aware of?
Here are some UK employment legislations directly relating to the implementation of an equal opportunities policy:
Equality Act 2010: This legislation requires employers to eliminate discrimination, harassment, and victimisation, and to promote equal opportunities in recruitment, training, promotion, and other aspects of employment.
Human Rights Act 1998: This legislation incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, and protects employees from discrimination and other human rights violations.
The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED): This duty requires public sector organisations, including some employers, to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different groups.
The Gender Pay Gap Regulations 2017: These regulations require certain employers to report on their gender pay gap and take action to address any disparities.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995: This legislation requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to support employees with disabilities and to prevent discrimination against them.
The Race Relations Act 1976: This legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, and requires employers to promote equal opportunities and good relations between different racial groups.
The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 2021: These regulations require employers to take steps to support transgender employees and to prevent discrimination against them.
The Age Discrimination Regulations 2006: These regulations prohibit discrimination on the grounds of age in employment, training, and other areas, and require employers to promote age equality.
It is important for employers to understand and comply with these and other relevant employment legislations when implementing an equal opportunities policy to ensure that their policies and practices are in line with the law and promote equality and diversity in the workplace.
Equal opportunities Policy
The Company recognises that discrimination is unacceptable and that it is in the interests of the Company and its employees to utilise the skills of the total workforce.
It is the aim of the Company to ensure that no employee or job applicant receives less favourable facilities or treatment on grounds of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), sexual orientation, religion or belief, or because someone is married or in a civil partnership. These are known as "protected characteristics". The Company wishes to see its workforce broadly reflecting the community in which its premises are based.
This policy and the associated arrangements shall operate in accordance with statutory requirements. In addition, full account will be taken of any Codes of Practice issued by the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Department of Employment, and guidance from the Department of Health, and other statutory bodies.
This policy is applicable to all workers of [company name].
Where discrimination against any person or group is referred to it shall be deemed to be potential discrimination within any of the categories listed in the policy statement. Two types of discrimination are covered by statute - direct and indirect.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person or group is treated less favourably than others.
Segregating a person or group on the basis of their race, sex or disability is unlawful. It also is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant whose conviction is spent.
Indirect discrimination occurs when a condition or requirement is imposed which, although applied equally to all individuals or groups, is such that:
- the proportion of persons of a group who can comply with it is significantly smaller than the proportion of persons not of that group who can comply with it
- the Employer cannot show it as being justifiable based upon the needs of the job
- it is to the detriment of the individuals concerned because they cannot reasonably comply with it
For example, a dress policy which prevents women wearing trousers discriminates against women of a particular race or religion; a higher language standard than is actually needed to do the job discriminates on the grounds of nationality/race; a training policy which excludes part-time staff may discriminate against women, who fill the majority of part-time jobs.
Rights of disabled workers
The Company attaches particular importance to the needs of disabled people.
Under the terms of this policy, managers are required to:
- make reasonable adjustment to maintain the services of an employee who becomes disabled, for example, training, provision of special equipment, reduced working hours. (NB: The Personnel Manager will advise managers on the availability of funds from external agencies to maintain disabled people in employment);
- include disabled people in training/development programmes;
- give full and proper consideration to disabled people who apply for jobs, having regard to making reasonable adjustments for their particular aptitudes and abilities to allow them to be able to do the job.
Victimisation and harassment
Discrimination by victimisation occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another because he/she had asserted his/her rights under the Acts relating to discrimination or had helped another person to assert those rights.
There is a separate policy dealing with all forms of harassment.
Responsibility of managers
The responsibility for ensuring the effective implementation and operation of the arrangements will rest with the Chief Executive. Directors shall ensure that they and their staff operate within the policy and arrangements, and that all reasonable and practical steps are taken to avoid discrimination. Each manager will ensure that:
- all their staff are aware of the policy and the arrangements, and the reasons for the policy;
- grievances concerning discrimination are dealt with properly, fairly and as quickly as possible;
- proper records are maintained.
The Personnel Manager will be responsible for monitoring the operation of the policy in respect of employees and job applicants, including periodic departmental audits.
Responsibility of employees
Whilst the responsibility for ensuring that there is no unlawful discrimination rests with management, the attitudes of staff are crucial to the successful operation of fair employment practices. In particular, all members of staff should:
- comply with the policy and arrangements;
- not discriminate in their day to day activities or induce others to do so;
- not victimise, harass or intimidate other staff or groups on the grounds specified in the policy statement;
- inform their manager if they become aware of any discriminatory practice.
A series of regular briefing sessions will be held for staff on equal opportunities issues. These will be repeated as necessary. Equal opportunities is also included in induction programmes.
Training will be provided for managers on this policy and the arrangements. Members and managers who have an involvement in the recruitment and selection process will receive specialist training.
The Company deems it appropriate to state its intention not to discriminate and assumes that this will be translated into practice consistently across the organisation as a whole. Accordingly, a monitoring system will be introduced to measure the effectiveness of the policy and arrangements.
The system will involve the routine collection and analysis of information on employees by gender, marital status, ethnic origin, qualifications, grade and length of service in current grade. Information regarding the number of staff who are registered as disabled will be maintained.
There will also be regular assessments to measure the extent to which recruitment to first appointment, internal promotion and access to training/development opportunities affect equal opportunities for all groups.
The information collected for monitoring purposes will be treated as confidential and it will not be used for any other purpose.
Grievances and discipline
Employees have a right to pursue a complaint concerning discrimination or victimisation via the Grievance or Harassment Procedures
Discrimination and victimisation will be treated as disciplinary offences and they will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure.
The policy and arrangements will be reviewed annually by the Human Resources Department and the Chief Executive.
All employment policies and arrangements have a bearing on equality of opportunity. The Company policies will be reviewed regularly and any discriminatory elements removed.
Issue date: [date]
Author: [name, job title]
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