EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY AND PROCEDURE

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1 EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY AND PROCEDURE State whether the document is: Trust wide Business Group Local APPROVAL COMMITTEE VALIDATION COMMITTEE (if Policy) DATE OF: APPROVAL State Document Type: Policy Standard Operating Procedure Guideline Protocol Patient Experience and Staff Development Group Joint Consultative Team Risk Assurance Committee INTRODUCTION DATE VALIDATION (if policy) DISTRIBUTION REVIEW CONSULTATION EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT (Tick) RELATED APPROVED TRUST DOCUMENTS Via intranet, team brief, Trust committees Original Issue Date June 2010 Review Date June 2013 Patient Experience Staff Development Committee Joint Consultative Committee Screening Initial Full All HR policies AUTHOR/FURTHER Sue Bell, Equality and Diversity Manager INFORMATION THIS DOCUMENT REPLACES Document Change History: Issue No Page Changes made Date (include rationale and impact on practice) 2 Whole Document Major review of policy undertaken following changes in Equality Legislation. January 2011

2 Policy Contents TABLE OF CONTENTS Sections Page No 1 Introduction/ Purpose of the document 2 2 Statement of intent/ scope of the document 2 3 Summary of the document 2 4 Definitions 2 5 Roles and Responsibilities 6 6 The policy 7 7 Complaints 10 8 Implementation 10 9 Monitoring

3 EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY 1. INTRODUCTION / PURPOSE OF THE DOCUMENT Stockport NHS Foundation Trust wholeheartedly supports the principle of equality and diversity in employment and believes that this commitment will lead to improved services for our patients. Our aim is to create an organisation that values diversity and promotes equality of opportunity, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. The Trust values diversity as well as promoting equality of opportunity and we recognise that talent and potential are distributed across the population; by ensuring that our workforce reflects the local population we will increase the quality of service provided to patients. We aim to create a working environment in which there is no bullying, harassment or discrimination; all people have the opportunity to realise their full potential; and all decisions are based on merit. We also aim to provide services in a safe environment where all people are able to access high quality services; there is no bullying, harassment or discrimination; and all care decisions are based on clinical need. 2. STATEMENT OF INTENT / SCOPE OF THE DOCUMENT 2.1 This policy applies to all those working in the Trust, in whatever capacity. A failure to follow the requirements of the policy may result in investigation and management action being taken as considered appropriate. 2.2 This may include formal action in line with the Trust's disciplinary or capability procedures for Trust employees; and other action in relation to other workers, which may result in the termination of an assignment, placement, secondment or honorary arrangement. 3. SUMMARY OF THE DOCUMENT The aim of this policy is to communicate Stockport NHS Foundation Trust s commitment to the promotion of equality. It sets out our commitment to tackling discrimination in all areas of the Trust, from recruitment and employment policies through to access to our services. 4. DEFINITIONS In line with the Equality Act (2010), Stockport NHS Foundation Trust applies the following definitions in application of this policy: 4.1 Discrimination Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have (see perceptive discrimination ), or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic (see associative discrimination )

4 Associative Discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because they are linked to someone with a protected characteristic. For example, you cannot refuse to recruit somebody because you/ they are married to a foreign national or refuse to promote a person because they care for a relative with a disability. Perceptive Discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because others think that they possess a particular protected characteristic, even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic. For example, you cannot refuse to recruit somebody because you think they are Muslim (whether they are or not) or refuse to allocate a job to a person purely because you think they don t look old enough. Indirect discrimination can occur when you have a condition, rule, policy or practice that applies to everyone but which particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if you can show that your actions were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim and, as such, are objectively justified. An Objective Justification is when an otherwise discriminatory action can be objectively justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim that is, the way of achieving the aim is appropriate and necessary. 4.2 Harassment Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Employees are also protected from harassment because of perception and association. Third party harassment means that employers are potentially liable for harassment of their employees by people (third parties) who are not employees of their organisation, such as patients. Stockport NHS Foundation Trust will only be liable when: harassment has occurred on at least two previous occasions the Trust is aware that it has taken place, and has not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again. Bullying includes persistent criticism, intimidation, personal abuse and/or ridicule which humiliates or demeans the individual involved, eroding their self-confidence. 4.3 Victimisation Victimisation occurs when an employee is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint, raised a grievance, or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint. 4.4 Positive Action Some people with protected characteristics are disadvantaged or underrepresented in some areas of life, or have particular needs linked to their - 3 -

5 characteristic. They may need extra help or encouragement if they are to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Positive Action refers to a range of lawful actions that seek to overcome or minimise disadvantages that people who share a protected characteristic have experienced, or to meet their different needs. For example, under our Recruitment Policy we will automatically offer an interview to all candidates with a disability who request an interview and meet the essential criteria for the role. Affirmative Action is another term for Positive Action. It occurs when positive steps are taken to increase the participation of under-represented groups in the workplace or in uptake of services. Positive Discrimination, the act of treating someone with a protected characteristic more favourably to counteract the effects of past discrimination, is illegal in the UK. For example, it is illegal to choose a black candidate over a white candidate for a job solely on the basis of their colour. However, in trying to address a low representation of ethnic minorities in the work place positive action such as advertising jobs through local BME groups, is acceptable. 4.5 Reasonable Adjustment Where a disabled person is at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with people who are not disabled, there is a duty to take all reasonable steps to remove that disadvantage by (i) changing provisions, criteria or practices, (ii) altering, removing or providing a reasonable alternative means of avoiding physical features and (iii) providing auxiliary aids. The affect of a reasonable adjustment should be to provide a service as close as reasonably possible to the standard offered to non-disabled people. This is an Anticipatory Duty for service providers, i.e. all reasonable adjustments known to the service provider should be made in advance to assist potential disabled service users and not just to those who are known to the service provider. What is considered Reasonable will depend on all the circumstances of the case including the size of an organisation and its resources, what is practicable, the effectiveness of what is being proposed and the likely disruption that would be caused by taking the measure in question as well as the availability of financial assistance For example, it would be a reasonable adjustment for a small GP Practice to fit a ramp allowing patients in wheelchairs to access the surgery as easily as non-wheelchair users. For a large hospital, it would be reasonable to install lifts allowing patients with limited mobility to use all floors and wards. If an adjustment is reasonable, the person or organisation providing the service must pay for it. Proportionate refers to measures or actions that are appropriate and necessary. Whether something is proportionate in the circumstances will be a question of fact and involve weighing up the discriminatory impact of the - 4 -

6 action against the reasons for it, and asking if there is any other way of achieving the aim. Where a decision is taken that a requested adjustment is not reasonable or proportionate, the organisation would need to have evidence to back up this position. Some examples of reasonable adjustments include: o Providing information in Alternative Formats which are accessible to disabled people with specific impairments, for example Braille, audio description, subtitles and Easy Read. o Fitting Hearing Loops that allow people with hearing aids to filter out distracting background noise in public places o Fitting Wheelchair Ramps to allow access to different levels o Providing Disabled Facilities that are wide enough for service users in wheelchairs o Changing opening times to allow working people to attend a clinic o Employing a Palantypist to allow an employee with a hearing impairment to take part in large meetings o Installing Videophone or Textphone facilities for blind service users o Providing screen readers for blind or partially sighted employees o Providing Sign Language Interpreters at healthcare appointments 4.6 Protected Characteristics This policy is intended to protect employees and service users from unfair treatment, regardless of their background. Our definition of protected characteristics is based on those set out in the Equality Act 2010: Age refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g year olds). The Equality Act protects people over 18 from discrimination in employment. Under this policy, no employee or service user should be treated differently on the basis of their age unless it can be demonstrated that it is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate goal, such as providing cancer screening for certain age groups based on medical research. A person has a Disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. To qualify for protection from discrimination, a disabled person does not have to show that their impairment affects a particular capacity, such as mobility, speech, hearing or eyesight. N.B. Candidates for employment should not be asked about their health before offering them work. The protected characteristic of Gender Reassignment applies to a person who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process to change their sex. To qualify for protection from discrimination a transsexual person does not have to show that they are under medical supervision

7 Marriage is defined as a legal 'union between a man and a woman'. Samesex couples can have their relationships legally recognised as Civil Partnerships. Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples and neither group can be discriminated against for being married or part of a civil partnership. Pregnancy is the condition of expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. Women are protected from discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity during the period of pregnancy and any statutory maternity leave to which they are entitled. Employers must not take into account an employee s period of absence due to pregnancy-related illness when making a decision about employment, and should ensure that there are appropriate mechanisms for separately recording such illnesses. Race refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins. A racial group can be made up of two or more different racial groups (for example, Black Britons). Religion and Belief refers to religious and philosophical beliefs that affect a persons life choices or the way a person lives. A religion must have a clear structure and belief system. A belief means any religious or philosophical belief or lack of belief that guides a persons life choices. Humanism is a protected philosophical belief but political beliefs would not be protected. Sex refers to a person s gender - a man or a woman. Sexual Orientation categorises a person's sexual attraction towards their own sex, the opposite sex, or both sexes. Under this policy, no employee or service user should be treated unfairly on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Equality Act protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual employees from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. 5. RESPONSIBILITY Director of HR The Director of Human Resources has lead responsibility for ensuring that this policy translates into effective action at an operational level. Equality and Diversity Manager The Equality and Diversity Manager will advise on the implementation of the policy and monitor its effectiveness. Managers All managers have responsibility for ensuring that employees are aware of the policy, and that they adhere to the terms of the policy. Specific responsibility falls upon managers to ensure that they promote an equality conscious - 6 -

8 environment and they carry out duties such as recruitment and training in line with the policy. Employees All employees have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with this policy and to ensure they apply it effectively and fairly to all colleagues, patients and visitors. External Contactors and Agencies External contractors and agencies providing services on behalf of the Trust, on Trust premises will be expected to make their staff aware of the Trust s policy and comply with it. Discrimination on the grounds listed above will not be tolerated by the Trust, whether committed with intent or negligence. Every employee is required to assist the Trust to meet its commitment to provide equal opportunities in employment and avoid unlawful discrimination. Employees can be held personally liable as well as, or instead of, the trust for any act of unlawful discrimination. Employees who commit serious acts of harassment may be guilty of a criminal offence. Acts of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation against employees or customers are disciplinary offences and will be dealt with under the Trust s disciplinary procedure. Discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation may constitute gross misconduct and could lead to dismissal without notice. 6 THE POLICY 6.1 Recruitment and Employment The recruitment process must result in the selection of the most suitable person for the job in respect of experience, qualifications; skills and attitude. It is against our policy and against the law to discriminate either directly or indirectly on the grounds of gender, gender reassignment, marital status, colour, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or staff organisation membership at any stage of the recruitment process. Adherence to the Managers guidelines for recruitment and selection should ensure equal opportunities exist in all aspects of recruitment but specific points to remember are:- All jobs are to be advertised internally and should be open to all applicants except in the very rare case of a job covered by a Genuine Occupational Qualification. Short-listing and interviewing should always be done by more than one person and notes regarding the suitability/non-suitability of candidates should be made. Copies of the will be given to all the recruitment and advertising agencies with which we deal

9 The Trust commitment to Equal Opportunities should be stated in all recruitment literature. Job titles; job descriptions and person specifications must use nondiscriminatory language. The application form includes only those questions which are necessary at the initial stage of selection and states the Trust's commitment to equal opportunities. The application form has an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Section, which when completed by the applicant, is removed by the Recruitment Department prior to shortlisting and which enables equal opportunities monitoring to take place. At interview, all questions must be relevant to the job and in no case will questions be asked or assumptions made about a person's personal and domestic circumstances or plans. The interview letter inviting an applicant to interview should ask about any special requirements they may have for the interview such as wheelchair access. Venue details should be sent with the interview letter which outlines physical details such as floor details/access points. At least one member of any interview panel must have completed the Trust Recruitment and Selection training. All requirements for educational and professional qualifications must be valid and job related and overseas qualifications must be properly assessed by the recruiting manager. When selection tests are used, all tests used will be valid, reliable and free from bias and tests must be administered and scored in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner. A post will be offered to the candidate who best meets the essential and desirable criteria of the person specification. General Employment Particular care should be taken to ensure that the working environment is suitable to all staff and that bullying, harassment or intimidation does not take place. It is important that regard is paid to individual needs. There should not be discrimination in the arranging of shifts or overtime, by assuming that certain groups do not wish or are unable to do shift work. Unplanned overtime should be offered to all employees, on an equitable basis. Appropriate refresher training should be made available to members of staff returning to work after having a family or career break

10 Maternity leave should be viewed as a natural break in employment and the Trust will facilitate return to work where possible and not allow such leave to interfere with career progression. All policies and terms and conditions of employment should be free from bias against any group likely to experience discrimination. To ensure this, an Equality Impact Assessment should be performed for each policy. Part-Time Employment Part-time work is desirable for many people, and can be to the advantage of the Trust. It is our policy to create opportunities for part-time work or jobsharing where possible, and to ensure that our part-time employees receive fair treatment. 6.2 Staff Training & Development The success of the Trust's commitment to equal opportunities depends upon its implementation by managers and supervisors at all levels in the Trust. The Trust is committed to ensuring that they are aware of what is expected of them by the Trust and what is required of them by law. All managers will receive training in the principles of equal opportunity in employment which will take place within general management training courses and specific staff related courses such as:- Recruitment and Selection; Appraisals; Induction. In addition all employees will complete the Equality and Diversity e-learning package. Mangers will be kept updated with relevant employment legislation and HR Advisors are available to support and advise managers on any particular equal opportunities issue. The Trust also requires all staff responsible for designing services or developing polices/strategies to undergo Equality Impact Assessment training, so that they are fully aware of the process and skilled in undertaking them. 6.3 Dismissal, Redundancy & Retirement Any decision to dismiss, retire or make an employee redundant should be taken fairly, based on business needs and the individual s skills / performance, not protected characteristics. This should be done in line with the relevant Trust policies which have been equality impact assessed. 6.4 Commissioning & Procurement We understand the importance of ensuring that our values around equality are embedded into the way we spend money so we can use this opportunity and influence to promote equality of opportunity. We are therefore committed to ensuring that our commissioning and procurement practices address issues in relation to equality, which include ensuring that our contactors share our values both as an employer and service deliver, and that where relevant, our contracts include specific expectations around equality

11 6.5 Service Delivery Stockport NHS Foundation Trust is committed to ensuring that all its services are designed and delivered in a way that meets all our communities needs. To enable the Trust to fully address issues of Equality & Diversity, we have adopted a comprehensive Equality Impact Assessment toolkit which is built into all our mechanisms for policy and service development and approval. All reasonable adjustments will be made to ensure that our services are accessible to all groups in our community, except where there is clinical evidence to objectively justify alternative arrangements, such as limited services for certain age groups. Training will be made available for front line staff to ensure that they understand and meet the different needs of service users. Discrimination, harassment and victimization will not be tolerated in any of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust s services whether this is directed towards staff or service users. The Trust will take all appropriate steps to protect its staff and service users from illegal discrimination, victimisation or harassment. 7. COMPLAINTS Employees who believe that they have suffered any form of discrimination, harassment or victimisation are entitled to raise the matter through the harassment or grievance procedure. Copies of these policies are available on the Human Resources Microsite. All complaints of discrimination will be dealt with seriously, promptly and confidentially. In addition to our internal procedures, employees have the right to pursue complaints of discrimination to an Employment Tribunal or the Fair Employment Tribunal under the anti-discrimination legislation. However, employees wishing to make a complaint to a tribunal will normally be required to raise their complaint under our internal grievance procedures first. Every effort will be made to ensure that the employees who make complaints will not be victimised. Any complaint of victimisation will be dealt with seriously, promptly and confidentially. Victimisation will result in disciplinary action and may warrant dismissal. Complaints from Members of the Public: Any service user who feels that they have been treated less favourably than others in the same circumstances has the right to seek redress. The Patient and Customer Services Team will handle any complaints from service users or members of the public relating to equal opportunities quickly, fairly, and in a timely manner. This will be done in accordance with the Trust s Complaints Policy

12 8. IMPLEMENTATION All staff have a responsibility to ensure that they are aware of Trust documents which are relevant to their area of work and that they act in accordance with these at all times. Line managers have the responsibility to cascade this information to the staff they manage. Line managers must ensure that departmental systems are in place to enable all staff including agency staff access to relevant policies, procedures, guidelines and protocols and to remain up to date with the content of new and revised policies, procedures, guidelines and protocols. 9. MONITORING Stockport NHS Foundation Trust acknowledges the importance of monitoring the effectiveness of the. Our annual workforce monitoring report will measure the composition of our workforce by collecting relevant statistics relating to ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and religion and belief throughout the employment cycle. Of particular importance will be the statistics showing the number of: Staff in post Applicants for employment, training and promotion (and success rate) Staff who receive training Staff involved in grievance procedures Staff subject to disciplinary procedures Staff who cease employment; and Changes in the distribution of staff employed in the Trust over a period of time. The Trust will maintain confidential records of complaints covered by the scope of this Policy and any investigation undertaken. Patient engagement will also be used to measure the impact of the policy for our service users. The Equality and Diversity manager will ensure that monitoring of this policy is undertaken annually and that any action plan is implemented and reported to the authorising group. Monitoring of this policy will consist of an audit review of incidents of non compliance with this policy and development of any subsequent action plan

13 Monitoring Arrangements Responsible individual/ group/ committee Frequency of monitoring Responsible individual/ group/ committee for review of results Responsible individual/ group/ committee for development of action plan Responsible individual/ group/ committee for monitoring of action plan Workforce Monitoring Report Equality and Diversity Manager Annually PEASD Equality and Diversity Manager PEASD Equality and Diversity Annual Report Equality and Diversity manager/ PEASD/ Trust Board Annually PEASD/ Trust Board Equality and Diversity Manager PEASD/ Trust Board Monitoring of complaints Equality and Diversity Employment/ Service Group Bi Monthly Equality and Diversity Employment/ Service Group Equality and Diversity Manager Equality and Diversity Employment/ Service Group

14 If you would like this policy in a different format, e.g. in large print, or on audiotape, or for people with learning disabilities, please contact Patient and Customer Services. Your local contact for more information is Patient and Customer Services at Poplar Suite, SHH, Tel: or

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