Date Change Made
New Version No.
Changes Made By (initial)
Approved at MTC 10 11 15 Agenda Item 8.1
Reviewed at MTC 10 12 18 Agenda item 13.1
Reviewed at MTC 07 10 19
Agenda item 11.2
Updated to include 9 equality characteristics
Updated by Town Clerk
Adopted at MTC 28 09 20
1.1 Equal opportunities
The Equality Act became law in 2010. It covers everyone in Britain and protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Macclesfield Town Council is an Equal Opportunities employer, service provider and community leader. It will ensure that all employees and service users are not subject to any form of discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation paying regard to the Equality Act’s 9 protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnerships
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation.
The Council is committed to providing the highest quality of governance and service and recognises that the implementation of an effective Equality Policy is an integral part of any approach based on quality of service and provision. It is not a coincidence that an organisation that is able to provide services to meet the diverse needs of its users, usually carries out its core business efficiently. Equally a workforce that has a supportive environment is more productive. The Council as a corporate body has responsibilities as an employer, a service provider and a public authority, but both Members and employees as individuals also have responsibilities as well as rights.
The Council is committed to ensuring that its services and employment practices are fair, accessible, responsive and appropriate for all residents, clients & service users, voluntary and business organisations and visitors in the community we serve, as well as the dedicated staff we employ and volunteers and partners who work with us.
To achieve this we are committed to avoiding and eliminating all forms of discrimination in accordance with our Equality Policy and ensure that human rights (dignity and respect) are central to the way in which we deliver services.
The Council will strive to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
The Council will engage with people it believes to have an interest in its approach to Equality. We will undertake periodic Equality Impact Assessments to help us in assessing whether an existing or proposed policy, procedure, practice or service does (or may) affect people differently, and if so, whether it affects them in an adverse way and if so, what we can do to change it.
The Council is committed to making full use of the talents and resources of all its employees. It will recruit, reward, develop, promote and transfer employees on the basis of the skills, relevant qualifications, experience, aptitude and ability they can bring to the job.
The Council will encourage and develop all employees to support and carry out the requirements of this Equality policy. All employees will be encouraged to identify and disseminate good practice.
All employees of the Council have a responsibility to ensure that the Council’s Equal Opportunities policy is communicated, and its requirements adhered to.
All the Council staff will receive training and development in equal opportunities issues. The Council policies on managing diversity form part of its Employee Handbook.
2. What is Discrimination?
According to the Equality Act 2010 it is possible to discriminate against someone in the following ways:
2.1 Direct Discrimination
Direct Discrimination is treating one person less favourably than another in the same or similar circumstances or segregating them solely because they have a ‘protected characteristic’. For example, Beatrice is turned down for a loan from her local credit union because they say that a woman is less likely to have a job and be able to repay the loan.
2.2 Indirect Discrimination
Indirect Discrimination occurs when there is a rule, policy or practice that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a particular characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if it can be shown that the rule, policy or objective is intended to meet a legitimate objective.
2.3 Associative Discrimination
Associative Discrimination – is when someone is discriminated against because they associate with someone with a ‘protected characteristic’. For example; despite being successful at interview, an organisation does not give Jane a job because she has a disabled son and they believe she will take a lot of time off to care for him.
2.4 Discrimination by Perception
Discrimination by perception – discrimination against someone because others ‘think’ they possess a particular protected characteristic.
Harassment (Disability, gender reassignment, race, or sex)
Unwanted behaviour related to a protected characteristic that has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. People can now complain about behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directly aimed at them.
Harassment (religion, belief or sexual orientation)
There is no specific prohibition on harassment related to religion, belief or sexual orientation. However, if you harass someone because of their religion, belief, sexual orientation and consequently treat them less favourably than you would treat someone else, a court would consider this to be direct discrimination which is unlawful.
Harassment by a third party – Organisations are potentially liable for harassment by people they don’t employ and must protect their staff or clients from harassment. For example, a cashier in a supermarket who possesses a ‘protected characteristic’ is constantly harassed by a customer. The management have been made aware of it on previous occasions but have not made steps to address or prevent the issue.
Victimisation occurs when a service provider treats someone badly because they have made or supported a complaint about discrimination or harassment, or because the service provider thinks they are doing these things. A person is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue claim.
3. Equality Legislation and its Implications
3.1 Unification of Previous Any- Discrimination Laws
The Equality Act 2010 replaced existing anti-discrimination laws with a single Act. It simplifies the law and also strengthens it in important ways to help tackle discrimination and inequality.
The Act applies to all organisations that provide a service to the public. It also applies to anyone who sells goods or provides facilities, whether or not they charge for them.
Previous relevant equality legislation includes:
- Equal Pay Act 1970 (Equal Value Amendment 1984)
- Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Gender Reassignment Regulations 1999)
- Race Relations Act 1976
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997
- Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
- Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003
- Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
- Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
- Disability Discrimination Act 2005
- Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
According to the Equality Act, the definition of disability applies to a person who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out their normal day-to-day activities.
To qualify from protection from discrimination, a disabled person does not have to show that their impairment affects a particular capacity such as mobility, speech or eyesight.
The Social model of Disability
Disability occurs because barriers hinder people from taking a full part in the community. This is the social model of disability and is defined as;
“The recognition that primarily it is the loss or limitation of opportunities (due to environmental and social barriers) that prevent people who have impairments from participating in society on an equal level with others.”
This will apply to a person who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process to change their sex. They do not have to show that they are under medical supervision.
This includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality.
4. Equal Opportunity Policies
The Council recruitment process will result in the selection of the most suitable person for the job, in respect of experience and qualifications. It is against the Council’s policy to discriminate either directly or indirectly on the grounds of any characteristic listed in its Equality Policy, at any stage of the recruitment process.
The Council staff will ensure that:
- All job opportunities are open to all applicants;
- No prejudgement or assumptions are made by recruiters or managers;
- All applications are given equal consideration;
- No decision is made in advance regarding the outcome of recruitment;
- All applicants and staff are made aware of the Council policy on recruitment.
All recruitment publicity must positively encourage applications from all suitably qualified and experienced people and should avoid any stereotyping of roles. All publicity should state that the Council is an Equal Opportunities employer and welcomes diversity. All vacancies must be advertised in accordance with the Council’s Personnel Policies.
The selection process will be carried out consistently at all levels. It will be fair and non-discriminatory. Application forms where used, will state that the Council is an Equal Opportunities employer. The only criteria to be used in the selection process are those based on the skills, experience and qualifications essential for the job.
All aspects of The Council’s recruitment and selection process will be monitored by the Town Clerk to ensure the Council meets its obligations as an Equal Opportunities and quality employer.
Our application form will be accompanied by a separate Equal Opportunities monitoring form, which will be detached on receipt from the application form and only be used for the purpose of monitoring the diversity of applicants we reach and help us to inform future recruitment strategies.
4.2 Training and Development
Training and development opportunities will be made available to all employees and any form of discrimination whether direct or indirect will not be tolerated. Priority will be given to training or development activity which is linked to the achievement of the Council’s aims and objectives. Where resources permit the Council will support training and development beyond the needs of the job which can be returned as a benefit to the Council i.e. increased flexibility, breadth of experience and commitment.
4.3 Terms and conditions
All employees will be treated equitably with respect to pay and other conditions of their contracts of employment.
4.4 Breaches of Policy
Employees who feel that they have been subject to discrimination should attempt to resolve the issue by talking to the individual whom they feel has acted inappropriately. If this does not resolve the issue then the employee can approach their Manager or, if necessary, the Town Clerk under the Grievance Procedure.
The Council will not tolerate or accept any form of harassment of its employees. All employees have the right to be treated with dignity and any contravention of this right may be subject to the appropriate grievance or disciplinary procedure. Harassment policy and processes are included in the Council’s Employee Handbook.
4.6 Discrimination against people with disabilities
The Council will make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to meet the needs of a person with a disability so the employee can properly undertake their job role. Where appropriate we will engage Access to Work for specialist knowledge and funding to ensure all employees have the correct equipment to carry out their role.
Within our application form we ask if you should need any reasonable adjustment for interview so we can be prepared and give each candidate the best opportunity for success. No candidate would be rejected on this basis.
4.7 Religious discrimination
Discriminatory behaviour which fails to acknowledge the rights and needs of people with different beliefs or practices will be treated as a disciplinary offence.
Workplace bullying is a separate issue from sexual and racial harassment but the effects can be the same. Within the working environment bullying can be described as the use of a position or power to coerce others by fear, oppression or threat.
The Council will not tolerate bullying behaviour at any level and it is the responsibility of all managers to eliminate any form of bullying which they become aware of. Allegations of bullying will be dealt with under the grievance or disciplinary procedures. Any employee who feels they are being bullied should consult any manager or the Town Clerk.
The Council will ensure that no employee is treated less favourably than other people because, for example they have brought proceedings, given evidence, or complained about the behaviour of someone who has been harassing or discriminating against them.
Recruitment is based entirely on relevant criteria, this criteria will be specific to the post and will not include age or age related criteria.
All job advertisements will avoid the use of ageist language. Phrases such as ‘applicants should be 25-35 years of age’, ’young graduates’ and ‘mature person’ are discriminatory.
Person specifications must focus on job needs only. Criteria unnecessarily specifying experience, personal qualities or qualifications will be removed from job advertisements and person specifications.
Where appropriate, advertisements will be designed to attract a mixed-age response through advertising.
- Age related details will be separated from the application form as far as practicable;
- Direct age related details (such as date of birth) will be separated via the equal opportunities monitoring form;
- Application forms will be reviewed to minimise inferred calculation of age;
- The selection of candidates will be based upon individual assessment against the relevant criteria and will not include age or age-related criteria;
- Candidates will be selected on the basis of skills and abilities. Recruitment procedures will ensure that the process is fair, consistent and does not discriminate against a particular age group;
- Only job-related questions should be asked of job applicants. Candidates will be measured against selection criteria to help decision-making;
- All successful applicants will be subject to an employment medical questionnaire irrespective of age. Assumptions about capability or medical fitness will not be based on the age of the applicant;
- Selection panel members must not make judgements about the abilities of a candidate based on stereotypical assumptions about age;
- Promotion, training and career development opportunities will be provided equally for all staff whatever their age;
- Procedures relating to appraisal, regarding and the award of accelerated or discretionary increments and other employment situations where selection is required will apply to all staff regardless of age. Any such review will focus on skills and ability;
- The take-up of training and development from different ages will be monitored;
- Specific length of service provisions relating to pay and benefits will only be permitted where this can be justified in that the arrangement rewards loyalty, encourages motivation or recognises relevant experience;
- Pay scales and access to other benefits including the occupational pension and bonuses will not be based on age. Any age related criteria will be removed;
- All policies will be reviewed to check whether they include reference to age related or length of service related entitlement. Where age or length of service related criteria are used these will be reviewed and revised where necessary;
- The Council does not have a default age for retirement;
- Any voluntary redundancy scheme will not be based on age related criteria unless such criteria may be justified under the regulations;
- Selection for redundancy will not be based on length of service alone as this is indirectly discriminatory.
5. Equality Rights
5.1 Positive about Service Delivery
The Council’s clients have the right to expect fair and non-discriminatory treatment whilst participating in or receiving any of the Council’s services. It will ensure that all recipients of the services delivered directly by the Council are guaranteed the same opportunity.
All aspects of the Council’s Equalities Policy impact on the manner in which it directly delivers services to and for its customers.
Adherence to the principles and practices contained within the policy will be monitored on a regular basis. The Council will look for ways that it can make its services accessible to all. Breaches of this Policy by staff will be subject to the grievance and discipline procedures.
Where any service is delivered indirectly by contractors, partners or volunteers, the Council will ensure that they understand its Equality Policy and adhere to it.
5.2 Positive about Community Leadership
The Council has a local governance and community leadership role. Local residents, members of local organisations, businesses and visitors have the right to expect fair and non-discriminatory treatment when engaging with the Council.
The Council recognises the diversity within the community and seeks to reflect this in the work it undertakes within that community. All aspects of the Council’s Equalities Policy impact on the manner in which engages with the community.
Adherence to the principles and practices contained within the policy will be monitored on a regular basis. The Council will look for ways that it can make it easier for everyone to engage with it.
5.3 Positive about Disability
The Council believe that disabled customers should be able to obtain services in the same way as other customers who are not disabled. However, given the constraints of operating from existing buildings, there will be some situations where the same treatment is not possible. In such cases, we will come up with a solution as to how best to service our disabled customers, which demonstrate respect for their dignity.
The Council will periodically undertake an audit of its premises and operations to assess as far as possible, what customers with different disabilities may need in order to access our services. We will base this on good practice guidance and where appropriate talk to individual customers about any particular problems they encounter. As necessary, we will seek expert advice on finding solutions.
The Council will focus particularly on making reasonable adjustments to the physical features of the premises. Where a physical feature makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled customers to make use of a service, we will take reasonable measures to: – remove the features, or alter the features, or provide a reasonable means of avoiding it, or provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service available.
The Council will plan the development of our business with disabled people in mind. We will ensure our staff are aware disability issues and are trained to meet the needs of disabled customers.
5.4 Positive about Democracy
Where councillors are to be elected, the Council will make information available as widely as possible about the election and help people who are interesting in standing for election, with the objective of reflecting the diversity of the Parish.
When the Council seeks a co-opted member, it will advertise widely and will ensure that every applicant has an equal opportunity. Selection will be made against objective criteria.
The Council will always promote democracy, encourage all people to engage with it and vote at elections. It will make special efforts to engage with “hard to reach” groups.
6.1 Complaints and compliance
The Council regards all forms of discriminatory behaviour as unacceptable and is concerned to ensure that individuals feel able to raise any grievance or complaint related to such behaviour without fear of being penalised for doing so.
Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against any Member, Officer or volunteer who violates the Equality Policy.