Meole Brace School recognises that equal opportunities is a fundamental development issue for the next decade if it is to maximize the best use of the human resources, talents and skills of its workforce. An Equal Opportunities Policy ensures that the best opportunities are provided for all employees.
The following policy provides a basis on which to develop good employment practices for the benefit of our existing staff and potential employees, in accordance with the provisions of the Race Relations Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and the Disabled Persons Act. It also serves to improve the standard of service delivery to our customers – the public.
The operation of an Equal Opportunities Policy in practice is essential if the School is to be recognised as a fair and progressive employer.
School Governors and Leadership Team fully support this policy but its success depends upon the full support of every employee. Commitment to such a Policy serves to increase organisational efficiency, thus improving the standard of service provided to the community.
Meole Brace School wholeheartedly supports the principle of equal opportunities in employment and opposes all forms of unlawful or unfair discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, unrelated criminal convictions, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age or disability.
It is in the School’s best interests, and those of all who work in it, to ensure that the human resources, talents and skills available throughout the organization and community are considered when employment opportunities arise. To this end, within the framework of the law, the School is committed, wherever practicable, to achieving and maintaining a workforce which broadly reflects the local community in which it operates.
Employees who have reason to believe that they have not received fair and equal treatment, will be able to pursue their complaint through the Grievance Procedure.
It is intended that this policy should provide improved employment practices for the benefit of staff, creating better working relationships, greater job satisfaction and improved service delivery.
The School is committed to the provision of equal opportunities in all its services to the Community.
GOOD EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES
Every possible step is taken to ensure that individuals are treated equally and fairly in the areas of recruitment, selection, promotion and training. We ensure that our working practices recognise the needs of both men and women caring for children and other dependants. Posts are open to job sharers wherever practicable and maternity/paternity procedures applied fairly and reasonably.
In order to achieve these aims, the following initiatives have been implemented:
Selection criteria are strictly relevant to job specification.
All staff receive sufficient information and advice to ensure that no discrimination occurs in the workplace.
Staff involved in recruitment, selection and redeployment receive relevant equal opportunities training.
Personnel policies are designed to promote equality of employment opportunity to all staff.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES LEGISLATION
It is essential that all employees understand the relevance and significance of Equal Opportunities legislation.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 makes it unlawful in the employment field to discriminate directly or indirectly against any person (man or woman) on the grounds of sex or marital status.
The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it unlawful in the employment field to discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin or national origin.
The Equal Pay Act 1970 (amended 1984) aims to remove discrimination between men and women in terms of pay and other conditions of their contracts of employment.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 aims to end the discrimination of disabled people in:
A the field of employment
B access to goods, facilities and services
C buying and renting land and property
D public transport vehicles and
Both the employer and individual employee can be liable for prosecution under Equal Opportunities Legislation. The employer must be able to demonstrate that its employment policies and practices are applied fairly and effectively throughout the organization. It will be necessary to ensure that information and training on equal opportunities has been made available to all employees to avoid liability in individual instances.
Discrimination is defined by law as being either direct or indirect.
Direct Discrimination refers to the situation in which one individual is treated less favourably than another on the basis of, for example, sex, marital status, disability or race. Areas where this could occur include recruitment, selection, promotion, redeployment and termination.
Examples of direct discrimination include:
Direct sex discrimination: a male/female applicant is given preferential consideration for a job vacancy.
Direct marriage discrimination: a married employee is treated less favourably than an unmarried one.
Direct race discrimination: an individual is not selected for promotion on the grounds of race. Indirect discrimination occurs when a requirement or condition which cannot be justified on grounds other than sex or race, is applied to men and women equally, but has the effect of disadvantaging a higher proportion of one sex or racial group than another.
Examples of indirect discrimination include:
Indirect sex and race discrimination: the application of a restriction precludes far more women or ethnic minorities from employment.
Indirect marriage discrimination: an employer requires a married job applicant to be able to work unsociable hours, when in practice this is not necessary.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
The Chair of Governors and Chair of Governors Personnel Committee have particular responsibility for the promotion, development and co-ordination of the Policy. However, all members of staff have an obligation not to discriminate against minority racial groups, people of either sex or the disabled. All employees are required to comply with the Equal Opportunities Policy and to co-operate in measures introduced by the School to implement it. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action.
WORK AND THE FAMILY
The Meole Brace School is committed to improving opportunities for staff to combine work and domestic responsibilities.
A number of issues will be examined, including:
The work-life balance of all employees
Job sharing and part time employment at all levels
Maternity and Paternity leave
Career Breaks for all employees
Establishment of holiday play schemes for the children of staff
Flexible shift patterns to fit in with domestic commitments.
These initiatives will help to promote our image within the Community as a caring employer providing a caring service.
GENUINE OCCUPATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
Some exceptions exist in the Sex Discrimination and Race Relations Acts where an employer is entitled to specify the race of a person required to carry out a particular job. Posts exist where the sex or race of the person is a “genuine occupational qualification” for the job or part of the job.
Most commonly, these are positions which need to be held by a particular sex or race for reasons of decency or privacy, authenticity or to provide services promoting welfare. Physical strength or stamina is not a genuine occupational qualification and is specifically excluded by the Act.
Positive action will be taken where past discrimination has occurred and there is a need to redress the imbalance. This can be achieved, for example, by putting on special single-sex training courses for women only or men only, or by using job advertisements which encourage applications from a particular group. However, at the selection stage, applicants must be considered on their merits and no account can be taken of the race or sex of the candidate.
RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
The employment process must result in the selection of the most suitable person for the job in respect of experience, abilities and qualifications. To do so, it must be fair, unbiased and objective and will apply equally to recruitment, assessment, redeployment or redundancy procedures
This Policy is designed to:
Ensure that no criteria, condition or requirement which cannot be shown to be relevant to the performance of the job is applied in the selection process.
Remove intentional or unintentional discrimination from recruitment and selection processes and ensure that consistent use is made of the available guidelines.
Develop professional awareness in all personnel involved in the recruitment, selection and placement process, offering training and information where appropriate. Care should be taken to avoid past discriminatory practices.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES TRAINING
This Policy aims to ensure that all employees participate in training programmes to develop their awareness of Equal Opportunities issues.
Provisions of the Policy is an integral part of the induction training programme of all new employees and will be incorporated into other training packages as necessary.
All staff are advised of their obligations under Equal Opportunities legislation and the terms of this Policy.
All staff receive awareness training on Equal Opportunities issues.
The content of training programmes is developed through:
Obtaining advice on needs and perceptions from different sections of the community and from external organisations experienced in Equal Opportunities training.
An ongoing review and analysis of learning needs of all staff.
Regularly reviewing methods and formats to ensure maximum benefit is derived from training.
TRAINING AND THE EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT SCHEME
This Policy aims to ensure that no discrimination is allowed to enter into any consideration of training and development needs of staff (except in the provision of Positive Action Training Programmes).
All employees have equal and direct access to training and development opportunities.
Review and monitoring of the practices and procedures used to identify staff development. This will ensure that any potentially unfair or unlawful bias is removed.
The provision of training for all those involved in assessment and staff development.
The encouragement of specific groups to apply for development and training in order to address the issue of under-representation in specialist posts and supervisory roles.
Meole Brace School is committed to ensuring that the Policy is implemented. The Policy is regularly monitored and reviewed and, where necessary, enforced through the full range of School procedures, including the disciplinary procedure. Professional Associations will be consulted in this process.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Policy, it will be necessary to regularly assess the following factors:
- The composition of the workforce and changes in its distribution over a period of time.
- Recruitment and selection procedures.
- Training needs.
Monitoring will assist the School to:
Produce statistical analyses and other feedback which will help to identify problems and will enable the effectiveness of the Policy to be assessed.
Make the best use of resources and reduce staff turnover.
Identify and remove any practice or procedure which could break the law.
All employees have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and harassment at work will not be permitted or condoned. A separate grievance procedure is available for any employee having a complaint as to discrimination, victimization or harassment (see Section 16).
Harassment is described by the Equal Employment Opportunities Code of Practice as:
“Unreciprocated and unwelcome comments, looks, actions, suggestions or physical contact that is found objectionable and offensive and that might threaten an employee’s job security or create an intimidating working environment. Harassment can be sexual, racial, directed against lesbians or gay men, or people with disabilities.”
Victims of harassment are advised to contact the Headteacher, Line Manager or Professional Association who will deal with the matter sympathetically and on a confidential basis.
Employees will be protected from intimidation, victimization or discrimination for filing a complaint or assisting in an investigation.
Retaliating against an employee for complaining about harassment is a disciplinary offence.
The Policy aims to promote understanding and acceptance that prejudice and discriminatory practices are unacceptable to the School.
- Staff are encouraged to promote good relations between colleagues and discourage offensive and discriminatory behaviour.
- All complaints by staff who feel that they have been discriminated against will be pursued through a special Grievance Procedure.
- All complaints will be protected from victimization by virtue of this Policy.