Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy

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1 Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy Human Resources Department

2 CONTENTS Page NIFRS Equality and Inclusion Statement NIFRS Equal Opportunities Policy 1. Policy Scope 1 2. Legal Framework 1 3. Our Commitments 3.1 Commitment to Equality and Inclusion in Recruitment, Selection and Promotion 3.2 Commitment to Equal Opportunities in Learning and Development 3.3 Commitment to Equality and Inclusion in Terms and Conditions Commitment to Equality and Inclusion in Managing Discipline and Grievance 3.5 Commitment to Equality and Inclusion in Managing Performance Commitment to Equality and Inclusion in Service Delivery Roles and Responsibilities under the Equality & Inclusion Statement and Equal Opportunities Policy 4.1 Corporate Management Team 4.2 Managers Employees 5 5. Complaints 6. Fair Employment Monitoring 6 7. Evaluation of the Equality and Inclusion Statement and Equal Opportunities Policy 8. Review 7 Appendix 1 List of relevant policies

3 Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service Equality and Inclusion Statement Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) is an equal opportunities employer. We are committed to making good faith efforts to comply with equality legislation and the principles of fairness in all that we do. We have adopted the following NIFRS Equality and Inclusion Statement to emphasise our commitment to equality of opportunity for all employees and job applicants:- We will promote a good and harmonious working environment in which our employees will be treated with dignity and respect. We will not discriminate unlawfully against or harass any person on the grounds of:- Gender Age Disability Political opinion Sexual orientation Gender reassignment Pregnancy or maternity It is our aim to: Marital or Civil Partnership status Racial group Religious or similar philosophical belief Create an inclusive working environment and culture to maximise the potential of all employees, providing equality of opportunity in all aspects of employment and avoiding unlawful discrimination. NIFRS will not tolerate or condone discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation of any individual in our workplace. We will: Implement policies, procedures and actions to ensure that we comply with both the letter and spirit of all existing, amended and proposed fair employment, antidiscrimination and equality legislation. Endeavour to have a workplace and employment policies and practices that do not unreasonably exclude or disadvantage our employees, or job applicants, who have disabilities. We will comply with the duty to consider reasonable adjustments for persons with disabilities in our workplace and in recruitment. Remain committed to a programme of action to ensure that equality and fairness at work takes place and is respected in the workplace. All employees are required to comply with the NIFRS Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy and all other policies supporting equality, inclusion and dignity at work. Continue to implement an Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy that applies to all Service users, employees, job applicants, together with anyone working on NIFRS premises including, agency workers, contractors, consultants and suppliers.

4 Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service Equal Opportunities Policy 1. Policy Scope 1.1 The Equality and Inclusion Statement and Policy applies to all Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service employees and job applicants, together with anyone working on NIFRS premises including, agency workers, contractors, consultants and suppliers. 1.2 NIFRS recognises its moral and social obligations to promote equality of opportunity within the local community and the desirability that our workforce broadly reflects the diversity of the local population. 2. Legal Framework 2.1 NIFRS operates under a complex legislative environment and seeks to comply with the obligations under the main equality provisions listed below:- The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998 (as amended) Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 (as amended) Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970 (as amended) Sex Discrimination (NI) Order (as amended) Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970 (as amended) Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended) Race Relations (NI) Order 1997 (as amended) The Employment (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2003 Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (NI) 2006 Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 The NIFRS duty to comply also extends to other legal provisions (list not exhaustive) including the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 as amended; the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000; the Work and Families Act (NI) 2015; the Rehabilitation of Offenders (NI) Order 1978 as amended. 2.2 As a public body NIFRS has a specific statutory duty under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between: Persons of different religious belief; political opinion; racial group; age; marital status; sexual orientation; and Between men and women generally; and Between persons with a disability and persons without; and Between persons with dependants and persons without. 2.3 In addition, NIFRS will have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion and racial group. Provisions for compliance with the Section 75 Statutory Duties are contained in the NIFRS Equality Scheme. 1

5 3 Our Commitments 3.1 Commitment to Equal Opportunities in Recruitment, Selection and Promotion Aim: To encourage the highest quality candidates from all backgrounds to apply and ensure equal and fair treatment throughout our recruitment process. We will strive to ensure that: Through recruitment and promotion, our workforce is representative of the community we serve. All posts will be advertised widely in order to provide an equal opportunity for all people interested to apply (exceptions may apply if in a redundancy situation). All advertisements reflect the job description and person specification and do not use words or phrases which indicate bias. All applicants complete an equal opportunities monitoring form which will not be made available to the selection panel and will be used to ensure the policy is being implemented. Reasonable adjustments are considered throughout the recruitment, selection and promotion process for applicants with disabilities. All employees involved in recruitment and selection receive training in NIFRS recruitment procedure and equal opportunities. All employees are recruited and promoted on the basis of merit using objective and measurable job related criteria consistently applied to all candidates. Selection criteria and reasons for the selection or rejection of individual candidates are recorded. 3.2 Commitment to Equal Opportunities in Learning and Development Aim: All employees are encouraged to reach their full potential through appropriate and fair access to learning, development and career progression opportunities We will strive to ensure: New employees are given and made aware of the NIFRS Equality & Inclusion Statement and Equal Opportunities Policy during the induction process, along with other supporting policies. Relevant equality and inclusion elements are included in learning opportunities, where appropriate, and form an integral part of recruitment and selection training. Equalities awareness training is provided as part of the NIFRS corporate learning and organisation development programme for employees. Learning opportunities for employees are accessible, in line with organisation and job-related needs. Formal learning and development opportunities for employees are communicated widely. 3.3 Commitment to Equal Opportunities in Terms and Conditions Aim: All policies covering pay, benefits, grades and terms and conditions are formulated and implemented with regard to equal opportunity. We will strive to ensure: 2

6 Terms and conditions are non-discriminatory and are applied consistently and fairly to all employees. Flexible working arrangements are enabled wherever possible to support employee work-life balance and organisational need. Reasonable adjustments and access to work requirements for those with a disability are considered in a fair and open manner. 3.4 Commitment to Equal Opportunities in managing Discipline and Grievance Aim: A working environment that is inclusive and where no form of discrimination is condoned. We will strive to ensure: All employees have the right to raise any complaint relating to equal opportunities under NIFRS Dignity at Work Policy. All efforts will be made to resolve matters informally in the first instance, where appropriate. Complaints of discrimination, victimisation or harassment are taken seriously and dealt with promptly and sensitively by managers, are investigated and dealt with in a fair and transparent manner under the NIFRS Dignity at Work Policy. Suitable support is provided to any employee who makes a complaint of harassment or bullying in the workplace and is also provided to the person who has a complaint made against them. Disciplinary rules and standards are applied consistently to all employees within NIFRS employment. For more information, see list of related policies at Appendix Commitment to Equal Opportunities in Managing Performance Aim: Equality and inclusion in the workplace is fostered through fair and objective performance management processes We will strive to ensure: Managers apply performance management processes including the Performance Management System and reviews, Grievance and Disciplinary procedures fairly, objectively and within the spirit of this policy. All employees receive an annual Performance Management review and development plan designed to support individual and organisational needs. 3.6 Commitment to Equal Opportunities in Service Delivery Aim: Services provided by NIFRS are accessible to all, taking into account different needs of all members of the community. We will strive to ensure:- Our decisions, policies and practices are screened for equality impacts in accordance with our responsibilities under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act

7 We work with partners including statutory bodies, voluntary and community groups to prevent and eliminate discrimination. Visitors and callers to our premises receive a professional and courteous reception and welcome from employees. Our verbal and written corporate communications reflect our commitment to equality and inclusion and alternative and accessible formats are considered where appropriate. Our contracts and agreements give due regard to equality and operate an equal opportunities policy in accordance with our policy; and our procurement processes ensure that external contractors and agencies providing services on behalf of NIFRS, carried out on our premises, are aware of this Policy. 4. Roles and Responsibilities under the Equality & Inclusion Statement and Equal Opportunities Policy 4.1 Corporate Management Team The Chief Fire Officer (Accounting Officer) is the designated Equal Opportunities Officer. The Corporate Management Team is responsible for: Delivering on the Equal Opportunities Policy through business planning and resourcing implementation. Ensuring the Equal Opportunities policy is fully communicated and appropriately monitored. Ensuring that our employees understand the significance of the Policy and learning and support is provided for our managers to meet their obligations in turning policy into practice. 4.2 Managers It is the responsibility of all our managers to:- Be proactive in promoting equality and inclusion and also in preventing and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the workplace. Ensure that they include consideration of equality and fairness when developing and reviewing strategies, policies, plans, projects and decisions. Familiarise themselves with the Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy and all other corporate policies in support of equality and to raise awareness of these locally. Ensure that they do not place requirements on employees that induce them to act in unlawful discrimination. Treat complaints of discrimination, victimisation or harassment sensitively and seriously. Ensure that information on equal opportunities is incorporated in local induction processes for new or temporary staff Ensure that employees in their area of responsibility receive regular training on equal opportunities and dignity at work. 4

8 4.3 Employees It is the responsibility of all our employees to:- Take personal responsibility for promoting equal opportunities and to treat everyone with fairness, dignity and respect. Recognise and value diversity amongst colleagues and in our community Take into account diverse needs when providing services to our community. Ensure their behaviour and/or actions do not in any way amount to discrimination or harassment, nor induce or attempt to induce others to practice unlawful discrimination. Report any acts of discrimination, bullying or harassment, or unlawful practices to a line manager Comply with any measures introduced to ensure equality of opportunity. Behaviour contrary to the aims of this Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy will not be permitted or condoned. We will treat such behaviour as misconduct under the NIFRS Discipline Policy and which may lead to dismissal from employment. Any employee who makes a complaint of discrimination and harassment, and those who give evidence or information in connection with such a complaint, will not be victimised for doing so (i.e. they are not to be discriminated against or harassed in retaliation for their actions). All employees, including managers, will be made aware of this policy and where it can be accessed. 5. Complaints 5.1 Employees who believe that they have suffered any form of discrimination, harassment or victimisation are entitled to raise the matter through the NIFRS Dignity at Work Policy or the normal grievance procedure, as appropriate. Copies of these policies are available via the Global Directory or from Human Resources. All complaints of discrimination will be dealt with seriously, promptly and confidentially. 5.2 In addition to NIFRS internal procedures, employees have the right to pursue complaints of discrimination to an Industrial tribunal or the Fair Employment Tribunal under the following anti-discrimination legislation:- Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, as amended; Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended; Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, as amended; Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003; Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, as amended; Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006; and Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, as amended. 5

9 6. Fair Employment Monitoring 6.1. NIFRS is registered with the Equality Commission for the purposes of the Fair Employment & Treatment (NI) Order As such we are obliged to monitor the community background and sex of our job applicants and workforce. We are also required to review the composition of our workforce and also our employment policies and practices every three years and are required to consider taking affirmative action where appropriate to promote fair participation between members of the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities. We are committed to complying with these duties and have implemented confidential monitoring practice and reporting in this regard. 6.2 In addition to monitoring on religious belief, we will also monitor and review our job applicants and workforce in relation to the following recognised statutory equality groups:- Sex Gender reassignment Racial group and national origin Disability Sexual orientation Political opinion Age Marital or Civil Partnership status Dependants or caring responsibilities 6.3 The information collected is used to convene balanced recruitment and selection panels, produce statistics and to inform equality screening of policies, strategies, plans and courses of action under Section 75 and Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act Analysis of the data will not be used in any way that allows individuals to be identified. 6.4 Collection of data on those who seek employment with us and those that are employed by us enables NIFRS to address workplace imbalances, to monitor our policies and practices and in consequence attract, develop and retain a workforce made up from people of all communities. 7. Evaluation of the Equality and Inclusion Statement and Equal Opportunities Policy Aim: Regular monitoring and review so that the effectiveness of the Equality & Inclusion Statement and Equal Opportunities Policy can be measured and information used to inform and support decision making. We will strive to ensure:- That all policies and procedures which impact on our employees and service users are screened for equality impacts. Confidential records of employees and applicants are maintained in order to monitor the progress of equality of opportunity within NIFRS. Data collected for the purpose of equal opportunities monitoring is examined on an annual basis (as a minimum) in order for the effectiveness of this policy can be considered. Summary reports on our equal opportunities progress will be published on our website. 6

10 Continuous review of our Equality and Inclusion Statement & Equal Opportunities Policy and all other policies concerning equality to comply with changes in legislation. NIFRS, via the Director of Human Resources will monitor the incidents of formal complaints under this policy and review them annually. 8. Review 8.1 This Policy will be kept under review triennially, or more often where there are legislative changes or amendments to Equality Commission for Northern Ireland requirements. Associated policies, guidance for employees and procedures will be discussed with the Trade Unions, whose agreement and support will be essential to the continuation of a working environment which is free from discrimination and where equality of opportunity is promoted. 7

11 List of relevant policies Appendix 1 NIFRS Equality Scheme NIFRS Dignity at Work Policy & Procedure NIFRS Joint Declaration of Protection & Good and Harmonious Working Policy NIFRS Code of Procedures on Recruitment & Selection NIFRS Grievance Policy & Procedure NIFRS Discipline Policy & Procedure 8

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