Equality & Diversity Inclusion Single Equality Act: Employment FAQs Sukhi Bains Equality & Diversity Officer Human Resources University of St Andrews Tel: 01334 461649email: firstname.lastname@example.org: www.st-andrews.ac.uk/hr/edi
What is the purpose of the Act?Government Equalities Office:“Equality Act is intended to provide a cross-cutting framework to: protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all; to update, simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.”Researched documents:• Equality Act: What’s New for Employers – ACAS• Equality Act, April 2010 (251 pages)• Equality Act Explanatory Notes (251 pages)• Employment Statutory Code of Practice - EHRC (351 pages)• Services Code of Practice – EHRC (288 pages)• ECU: Equality Act 2010 Implications for higher education institutions
How does the act relate to equality groups? (1)The Employment provisions of the Single Equality Act became law inOctober 2010.It brings together nine separate pieces of equalities legislation into onesingle Act, simplifying the law and strengthening it in important ways tohelp tackle discrimination and inequality.Section four of the Act extends the present duties to cover the following‘Protected Characteristics’: – Age (inclusive of carers) – Disability (inclusive of carers) – Gender Reassignment (no requirement for medical supervision) – Marriage and Civil Partnership – Pregnancy and Maternity – Race (Caste, Colour, Ethnicity, Nationality, National Origin) – Religion or Belief – Sex (including Gender) – Sexual Orientation
How does the act relate to equality groups? (2)Equality Strands Protected Characteristics:•Disability Discrimination Act(DDA) •age•Employment Equality •disabilityRegulations •gender/sex•Equality Act (2006) •gender reassignment•Equal Pay Acts Consolidated •pregnancy and•Race Relations Act in October maternity•Race Relations Amendments 2010 •raceAct •religion or belief•Sex Discrimination Acts •sexual orientation•Special Educational Needs &Disability (SENDA)
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (1)Direct Discrimination: University discriminates against an applicant/employee because of their protected characteristic resulting in the applicant/employee is treated less favourably than others.Example:• Only male job applicants are shortlisted for an interview as it is assumed that women will not fit in.• Training opportunities are offered to younger staff rather than older staff as it’s assumed that they older staff would not be interested.Associative Discrimination: University treats an applicant/employee less favourably because of the applicant/employee’s association with another person who has a protected characteristic.Example:• Employee is overlooked for promotion because their partner has undergone gender reassignment.
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (2)Perceived Discrimination: Applicant/employee treated less favourably because it’s perceived that the applicant/employee has a protected characteristic. Even though the University maybe mistaken it’s still discriminatory.Example:• Female employee is not promoted because senior staff believe her to be pregnant irrespective of whether she is pregnant or not.• Staff refuses to work with staff/students because they believe them to be gay irrespective of whether the staff/students are gay or not.
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (3)Indirect Discrimination: University applies to an employee a provision, criterion or practice, which on the face of it has nothing to do with the employee’s protected characteristic. University applies this equally to everyone but it: – puts, or would put, people who share the employee’s protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage with people who do not have that characteristic; and – puts, or would put, the employee at that disadvantage; and – cannot be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Legitimate aim: Must represent a real, objective consideration such as health safety and welfare of employees Proportionate aim: Appropriate and necessary means of achieving a legitimate aim
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (4)Harassment (section 26): 1) Unwanted conduct related to one or more of the relevant protected characteristics, which has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of another person, or creating for that person an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Not applying to pregnancy, maternity, marriage, civil partnership. 2) Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment). 3) Treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment. 4) Third Party Harassment: University is potentially liable for harassment by its employees by people they don’t employ such as students; customers; clients; suppliers, stakeholders.
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (5)Victimisation (section 27): Victimisation arises when the University subjects a person to a detriment because the person has done a protected act or because the University believes that the person has done or may do a protected act in the future.Example:• Staff/Student alleges that they have been discriminated against relevant to their protected characteristic from a member of staff, and as a result they are ignored by other staff within the School/Unit.• A senior staff behaves in a hostile manner to another member of staff, who previously supported a colleague in submitting a formal complaint against the senior manager for sexist behaviour.• Staff brands an employee as a ‘troublemaker’ because they raised a lack of job-share opportunities as potentially discriminatory.
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (6)Extending Disability Related Discrimination & Health (a): A person is treated unfavourably not because of the person’s disability itself, but because of something arising in consequence of the disabled person’s disability and the University cannot show that the treatment was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim.Example:• An employee is dismissed because of a failure to meet set targets, and thisfailure is due to their disability.• The University would have to demonstrate that dismissing the employeebecause of the lower productivity levels was a proportionate means ofachieving the legitimate aim. The fact that non-disabled employees who hadalso missed their targets were also dismissed is irrelevant.
What are the updated definitions of discrimination? (7)Extending Disability Related Discrimination & Health (b):• Prohibition on asking about health and disability (Section 60) before offering work and when including individual in a pool of candidates from whom a post will be filled when a vacancy arises.• Discriminatory for the University to require job applicants to complete a medical questionnaire or undergo a medical examination prior to deciding whether or not to select them for a role.When is it permitted under the Act to enquire on disability/health? Establishing whether the applicant will be able to comply with the requirement of attending an interview Establishing whether the employer will have to make reasonable adjustments for the individual to undergo an interview or any other assessments Establishing whether the individual will be able to carry out a task which is intrinsic to the employment Monitoring diversity (Equal Opportunity monitoring initiatives)
What are the new Duties on Universities?Single Equality Duty:• All protected characteristics other than marriage/civil partnership• Elimination of discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited under the Act.• Advancement of equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between persons whom do/do not share relevant protective characteristics through policies and service delivery.Method of compliance: In addition to good practice initiatives, a popular method is to conducting Equality Impact Assessments across all equality strands which are inclusive of the new Act/Duties, ensures compliance.
How is the Act enforced?Tribunals’:• Expands powers to make recommendations to employers on the action they should take where discrimination has been found.• Recommendations can be aimed at reducing the effect of discrimination on either claimants (existing power) or the wider workforce (new power).• No sanction for employers failing to follow a recommendation that does not relate to the claimant in a case.
What actions are we taking to comply? Equality Impact Assessments ‘Screening’ are inclusive of the Act/Duties Awareness and training sessions being delivered at Staff Induction andSchool/Unit specific are inclusive of the Act/Duties Initiatives for each School and Unit will be inclusive of the Act/Duties Creating a Single Equality Scheme in following official ‘Scottish PSED -Specific Duties’ guidance: - Combining present schemes on Disability; Gender; and Race - Comply with new Duties to actively tackle discrimination and harassment against Protected Characteristics and to consider their needs when designing and delivering services
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