Ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010
Equality and diversity in the workplace is a sensitive issue but one which must be taken seriously. Treating employees fairly regardless of their age, gender, race and other characteristics is central to business ethics and effective people management.
The role of an equality and diversity policy is to help prevent discrimination against employees, and provide a platform for staff that have been subjected to discrimination, or believe they have witnessed discrimination to raise the issue with their employer and be assured that the issue will be taken seriously.
The Equality Act 2010
Regardless of their identity or background, employees deserve to develop their skills and talents in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees because of nine factors: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. These characteristics are termed ‘protected characteristics’ by the Equality Act.
It is essential to have a suitable policy in place to reduce instances of discrimination and ensure appropriate action is taken if an incident does occur.
Benefits of a diverse workplace
UK legislation sets minimum standards for equality within the workplace, but an effective equality and diversity strategy goes beyond legal compliance and seeks to add value to an organisation, contributing to employee wellbeing and boosting staff morale.
An inclusive and diverse workforce
Creating an inclusive and diverse workforce brings many benefits to your business. Having a diverse range of experiences and identities within your team can help you to better understand and cater for the needs of a wider customer base. Especially so for companies with an international focus, it is advantageous to have staff on your team with roots in other countries or cultures to build better cross-cultural relations with customers.
Encouraging equality and diversity in your workplace has the added benefit of attracting, motivating, and retaining staff.
Promoting greater understanding and awareness of these different characteristics reduces the likelihood of discrimination instances, which consequently reduces the chance of complaints, disciplinary action and employment tribunal claims, and ultimately reduces costs and disruption to your business.
Making reasonable adjustments
Discrimination occurs when an employee is refused promotion, dismissed, excluded from social activities, or given different pay or terms and conditions because of one of the nine protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act.
The Equality Act also applies to job applicants.
It is potentially discriminatory to favour certain groups above others during the application process, unless it is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’, as stated in the ACAS guidelines on discrimination.
Under the requirements of the Equality Act, employers should make reasonable adjustments in order that a disabled employee can fulfil their duties to the best of their abilities. This could be physically adapting their working environment to minimising the impact of their condition, or any other changes the employee feels will allow them to perform their job better.
Cases when discrimination may be lawful
There are some instances in which an employer can take ‘positive action’ to help employees and job applicants who are:
- At a disadvantage because of a protected characteristic
- Underrepresented within the organisation
- Or have specific needs connected to a particular characteristic
Employers are not legally obliged to take positive action if they do not wish to do so, and they cannot use positive action to discriminate against others. They must demonstrate that positive action has been reasonably considered, and does not favour a group of people with one of these protected characteristics.
If a company noticed that only a small proportion of their management roles are filled by women, and introduced a training and development initiative targeted towards their female employees to develop their skills and confidence to apply for a management level role, that would be an instance of positive action in the workplace.
How the HR experts from PeoplePointHR can help
Not having proper equality and diversity procedures can have a detrimental effect on staff morale, and leave certain voices being underrepresented in your organisation. It benefits everyone to have a good balance of cultures and backgrounds in your workplace.
At PeoplePoint HR, our team is made up of professional HR and employment law specialists who can support you through compliance with the Equality Act 2010, to designing and implementing an equality and diversity procedure suitable for your business.
Our HR consultancy services
We can assist you with:
- Review your existing equality and diversity procedures, and ensuring they are compliant with UK legislation
- Drafting and implementing new procedures which work for your company
- Training your existing management on equality and diversity procedures
- Adapting grievance procedures to deal sensitively and effectively with any discrimination related complaints
- Assist with accreditation that demonstrate a positive approach to equality and diversity
Contact our HR professionals today on 0330 555 2555.