Equality of Opportunity in the Workplace

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1 This is an official Northern Trust policy and should not be edited in any way Equality of Opportunity in the Workplace Reference Number: NHSCT/09/220 Target audience: All Trust Staff Sources of advice in relation to this document: Rosemary McFerran, Assistant Director Human Resources Jacinta Melaugh, Director of Human Resources Replaces (if appropriate): Legacy Causeway, United and Homefirst s Equality Opportunities Policies Type of Document: Trust Wide Approved by: Trust Board Date Approved: 27 August 2009 Date Issued by Policy Unit: 20 October 2009 (Mandatory policy content added Oct 11 following review) NHSCT Mission Statement To provide for all, the quality of service we expect for our families, and ourselves. 1

2 Equality of Opportunity in the Workplace 1. Introduction 1.1 The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (the Trust) is committed to promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace. 1.2 The Trust recognises its responsibilities under the equality legislation and specifically under the following legislation (not an exhaustive list): Northern Ireland Act 1998 (specifically Section 75) Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998 Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 and 1988 (as amended) Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended) Race Relations (NI) Order 1997 (as amended) Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (NI) 2006 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2003 Civil Partnership Act 2004 Gender Reassignment Regulations (NI) 1999 Human Rights Act 1998 Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970 (as amended) 1.3 The Trust recognises and appreciates the support of the staff side, professional and staff organisations for the principle of equality of opportunity in the workplace and their commitment to the content and implementation of this policy statement. Chief Executive 2

3 2. Background 2.1 It is the policy of the Trust that everyone will enjoy equality of opportunity in the workplace regardless of gender, gender reassignment, marital status, civil partnership status, perceived or actual religious belief, political opinion, race (colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin and the Irish Travelling community), disability, age, sexual orientation, real or suspected infection by disease, staff side membership or whether or not they have dependants. Selection for employment and advancement will be on the basis of the merit principle. This policy applies to recruitment, promotion, training, transfer and other benefits and facilities. The Trust will promote and observe the objectives and principles set out in this statement and are committed to implementing policies to promote equality of opportunity within the Trust. 2.2 This policy applies to all employees, temporary or permanent, whether they work full-time or part-time, job applicants and potential applicants, contract workers, trainee workers and students on work placements and former employees. 3. Unlawful Discrimination 3.1 This policy is concerned with the promotion of equality of opportunity in the workplace and with the prevention of unlawful discrimination. However, the existence of law cannot of itself make sure that any policy of non-discrimination will work effectively. This will be achieved only if management and employees at all levels critically examine their attitudes and make sure that no trace of discrimination is allowed to affect their judgement. They should be aware of the forms which unlawful discrimination can take, guard against them and avoid any action, which might influence others to discriminate unfairly. 3.2 Unlawful discrimination is direct, indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation against any group covered by this policy on the basis of the equality grounds previously outlined. 3.3 Direct discrimination means treating an individual less favourably on any of the above grounds. 3.4 Indirect discrimination means placing an individual or group at a disadvantage through applying a provision, criterion or practice which cannot be justified and with which considerably fewer of that group can comply. 3.5 Victimisation means treating a person less favourably because they have taken a complaint or may have helped another person to assert rights under equality legislation. Individuals have a legal right to make 3

4 a complaint without prejudice to their existing, potential or future employment opportunities. 3.6 Care must be taken to guard against more subtle and unconscious forms of discrimination, which may not be immediately obvious. This may result from generalisations about the capabilities, characteristics or interests of particular groups, which influence the treatment of individuals or groups. This could include preconceptions about their suitability for a particular post, level of management, training course or other development opportunities. 3.7 The Trust is committed to taking all reasonable steps to make sure that there is no harassment of any individual or group. This may constitute unlawful discrimination under the Fair Employment, Sex Discrimination, Race Relations, Disability, Equal Pay, Age or Sexual Orientation legislation. 3.8 Harassment is unwanted conduct, deliberate or otherwise, related to the equality grounds previously outlined, which has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for staff. 3.9 Bullying is where an individual abuses a position of power or authority over another person. It can take many different forms. Bullying is not limited to the manager/subordinate relationship and can occur between persons of similar/lower grades The Trust will promote a good and harmonious work environment free from material or behaviour likely to be offensive, provocative or intimidating or in any way likely to cause apprehension to any employee. Accordingly, The Trust s Policy on the Management of Harassment in the Workplace, and the Trust s Working Well Together Policy, drawn up and agreed with the staff side and staff organisations, are issued to all employees. The Trust has also agreed a Joint Declaration of Protection with Staff Side to make sure that employees understand their responsibilities in this regard, are aware of the many forms of harassment and bullying at work and their adverse effects and have the confidence to challenge harassment and bullying in the workplace. This is issued to all employees and is displayed prominently in the workplace. 4. Management Arrangements 4.1 The Director of Human Resources is responsible for monitoring, coordinating and developing the policy under the direction of the Chief Executive. Directors and managers will make sure that employees for whom they are responsible are aware of, and abide by, this policy. The policy will apply to all levels of management. All employees employed by the Trust have a responsibility to accept their personal involvement 4

5 in the application of the Policy on Equality of Opportunity in the Workplace. 4.2 Managers and supervisors have a responsibility to be impartial in dealing with employees and make sure they adhere to this policy at all times. They have a responsibility to deal with any difficulties arising from a lack of impartiality by any employees and any other breaches of this policy within their area of responsibility. 4.3 All employees are responsible for making sure that their behaviour accords with the principles set out in this policy at all times. Breaches will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. 5. Communicating the Policy 5.1 This policy has been distributed to existing employees and is issued to new employees. It will be included in appropriate training courses and in guidance to selection and appointment panels. An equality of opportunity statement will be included in advertisements and application forms. 6. Monitoring and Affirmative Action 6.1 The Trust will monitor the composition of employees, applicants for employment and appointments annually on the basis of gender, perceived religious affiliation, race and disability. Regular monitoring provides the information required to measure the effectiveness of this policy and an objective view on the existence and progress of equality of opportunity in the workplace. To this end, an information system provides accurate and up-to-date information. 6.2 The Trust will periodically review policies and procedures in respect of employment and promotion to demonstrate that individuals are treated solely on the basis of merit. 6.3 The Trust will take such affirmative action as is deemed lawful, appropriate and necessary to help make sure there is equality of opportunity in the workplace. The Trust will set goals and timetables, where appropriate, to measure progress, which can reasonably be expected as a result of affirmative action. 7. Recruitment and Promotion 7.1 The Trust will make sure that advertisements do not indicate, or appear to indicate, an intention to discriminate in selection for recruitment, promotion or training. Advertisements will not be confined unjustifiably to areas or publications which would exclude, or disproportionately reduce, the numbers of applicants of a particular group. Advertisements will include an equality of opportunity statement. 5

6 7.2 Eligibility criteria for recruitment or promotion must be related to ability to do the job and will be non-discriminatory. These essential criteria will be made known to prospective candidates. The Trust recognises its duty of reasonable adjustment under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and will ensure fair and consistent application of the duty within the recruitment process. 7.3 Applications will be submitted on official application forms and appointments will be made following a selection process, which provides for shortlisting and interview panels. 7.4 Tests used in selection, recruitment, promotion or training will be regularly reviewed to make sure they are related to job performance and do not unlawfully discriminate. 7.5 Employees involved in the selection process will follow the Trust s Recruitment Policy. Decisions will be recorded at each stage of the selection and promotion process. These records will be kept for at least three years after an appointment has been made. 8. Training 8.1 Employees involved in selection and appointment panels will be trained in the Trust s Recruitment Policy and the Policy on Equality of Opportunity in the Workplace, including the current legislation and guidance on avoiding discrimination. This aspect will also be included, as appropriate, in management and supervisory development programmes so that those with managerial and supervisory responsibility perform their duties with a full knowledge of the implications of the equality legislation. 8.2 All panel chairpersons must be trained before being permitted to chair a recruitment panel. The Trust will strive to ensure that all other appropriate employees are trained prior to participating in a recruitment exercise. 8.3 All employees will be encouraged to take advantage of the training and career development opportunities available to enable them to develop the necessary skills to achieve their full potential. 9. Personal Development Review 9.1 Personal development review within the Trust will be based on an objective assessment of an individual's capabilities, performance and potential. Reports must not reflect assumptions or prejudices of the reviewer about the individual being appraised. 6

7 10. Work/life balance 10.1 It is in the Trust s interests to retain trained employees. The Trust, in consultation with staff side, will always consider what steps can be taken, consistent with the needs of the service, to enable employees to balance their work with their domestic responsibilities. Employees will be made aware of existing provisions such as maternity leave, job sharing, part-time working, flexible working hours, term-time working career breaks, paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave, time off for dependants and emergency leave for carers. The Trust recognises the obligations placed on employers by the Flexible Working Regulations that form part of the Employment (NI) Order Complaints of Discrimination 11.1 The Trust will treat seriously and take appropriate action on any grievance concerning discrimination, harassment, bullying or maladministration. Where complaints arise relating to harassment or bullying, the procedures for dealing with such complaints are laid down in the Trust s procedure for dealing with complaints of this nature Employees who feel that they have been discriminated against may seek help and advice from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland Employees who feel that they may have been discriminated against on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion may make a complaint to a Fair Employment Tribunal Employees who feel that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of their disability, gender, gender reassignment, marital status, civil partnership status, sexual orientation, age or race, may make a complaint to an Industrial Tribunal Those who feel that they have suffered injustice as a result of maladministration have access to the Commissioner for Complaints Individuals should check with these agencies regarding time limits under which complaints should be brought Employees who make a complaint in respect of alleged discrimination or harassment will be protected from victimisation. Acts of discrimination, victimisation or harassment by an employee of the Trust against any other employees will result in disciplinary action. 7

8 12. Agreement 12.1 This policy has been subject to consultation with management, Staff Side and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. It will be reviewed as necessary subject to similar consultation. 13. Equality, Human Rights and DDA This policy has been drawn up and reviewed in the light of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998) which requires the Trust to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity. It has been screened to identify any adverse impact on the 9 equality categories and no significant differential impacts were identified, therefore, an Equality Impact Assessment is not required. 14 Alternative Formats This document can be made available on request on disc, larger font, Braille, audio-cassette and in other minority languages to meet the needs of those who are not fluent in English. 15 Sources of advice in relation to this document The Policy Author, responsible Assistant Director or Director as detailed on the policy title page should be contacted with regard to any queries on the content of this policy. May

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