"Employment Equality act factsheet"
Factsheet Employment factsheet The Equality Act 2010 - Your rights in employment - how the Equality Act applies About this factsheet This factsheet gives you an outline of how the Equality Act applies to employment situations. The law can be complex and we try to explain this as clearly as possible. We have tried to keep technical language to a minimum and have explained what the terminology means. We have to use some legal terms to help you understand points that your employer may raise. The first part of the factsheet explains how the Equality Act works and gives you information on what the Act says is unlawful discrimination. The second part gives you information on the specific ways in which the Equality Act applies to employment situations. The third part gives you information on how you can challenge unlawful discrimination. This includes starting a grievance with your employer, mediation and taking a case to the Employment Tribunal. This factsheet also signposts you to other sources of information or advice. This factsheet is part of a series of factsheets on employment issues. At the end you will find the full list, and details of where to find them. This factsheet has been prepared by the RNIB Legal Rights Service. DISCLAIMER It is important to remember that this factsheet gives you general information rather than advice. If you think you need advice on a specific issue, please contact us or one of the organisations listed in this publication. RNIB – Supporting blind and partially sighted people Registered charity number 226227 Action for Blind People – Part of RNIB Group Registered charity number 205913 Contents: 1. The Equality Act 2010 2. Employment under the Equality Act 3. What to do if you feel you have been discriminated against 4. Further sources of information 5. Other factsheets in this series 1. The Equality Act 2010 The Equality Act replaced the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, the DDA is still the law. If you need information on the DDA, please see our separate factsheet on the DDA and employment: 'DDA Factsheet 4: Employment, occupation and recruitment'. You can get this from our Helpline (details can be found in section 4 below) or from our website (www.rnib.org.uk/equalityact). The Equality Act continues most of the same protections, duties and rights which you may be familiar with from the Disability Discrimination Act. It also includes some additional rights. Although this factsheet gives you information on the Act, it is particularly focused on the position of blind and partially sighted people. What does the Equality Act aim to do? The Equality Act aims to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. It does this in relation to what are called 'protected characteristics'. Disability is one of the protected characteristics. Others include, race, sex, sexual orientation and age. The Equality Act says that employers, service providers, educational institutions, landlords and others are not allowed to engage in 'prohibited conduct' which is linked to someone's 'protected characteristic'. Although this might sound complicated, it is actually fairly straightforward. 2 How does the Equality Act work? The Equality Act describes different types of discrimination (such as direct discrimination) which apply to specific discriminatory acts (such as refusing to offer someone a job). Does the Equality Act apply to people with a sight loss? Yes. As long as you meet the Equality Act's definition of a disabled person, then the Act applies to you. The definition is largely the same as the one used in the DDA. It means someone with a "physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day to day activities". Most blind and partially sighted people are likely to be "disabled" within the meaning of the Act. If you have been certified as blind/severely sight impaired or partially sighted/sight impaired by a consultant ophthalmologist, then the Equality Act treats you as meeting the definition of a disabled person. This means that the protections in the Equality Act apply to you. The Equality Act lists 9 protected characteristics, one of these is disability. For more information on the definition of disability, please see our factsheet on the definition of disability: Equality Act: definition of disability. You can get this from our Helpline (details can be found in section 4 below) or from our website (www.rnib.org.uk/equalityact). What employment is covered by the Act? Employers of any size. Employees include temporary, part time and permanent employees, and contract workers. Applicants and potential applicants for employment. Occupations such as police officers, barristers, partnerships and "office holders" (such as magistrates, and chairs of public bodies). Councillors. Employment Services. 3 Trade Unions and professional organisations. Practical work experience. Qualification Bodies. The only major occupation not covered by the Act is service as a member of the Armed Forces. Volunteers are not covered by the Act and so whether or not volunteers are covered will depend upon whether or not they are an “employee” which will in turn depend upon the nature of any contract they have. You should take specialist advice if you have a question about volunteers. In addition, some “voluntary” office holders, such as school governors, are covered by the public authority function provisions of the Act. This factsheet concentrates on general employment situations. It does not give detailed guidance on more specific situations such as occupations, office holders, apprenticeships or councillors. If you need advice on these issues, please contact us or the Equality and Human Rights Commission (contact details can be found in section 4 below). Types of discrimination There are different types of discrimination. These apply in a range of different situations that the Equality Act covers. This means that they aren't limited only to employment. For example, they also apply to provision of services and goods (shopping, leisure and retail) premises (renting a house/flat) and education. Although this factsheet is written specifically to cover employment, and uses examples that refer to work, it is very important that you remember that the same law applies to other areas. The different types of discrimination are: Direct discrimination In employment situations, someone (usually an employer) discriminates against someone else (an employee) if because of a protected characteristic, such as disability, the employer treats the employee less favourably that the employer treats or would treat someone else. 4 For example: Anne is not offered a job because she is blind, but Mabel, who is sighted, is given the job. The less favourable treatment (not getting the job) is because of Anne's disability. We can tell this is less favourable treatment, because we can compare what happens to Anne (not getting the job) to what happens to Mabel (getting the job). Mabel is what is called a 'comparator'. Indirect discrimination This is where someone (such as an employer) has a practice which appears to be neutral, but, because of a person's disability, the practice is discriminatory. For example: An employer says that all medical/hospital appointments must be taken as sick leave. Patrick has to have regular appointments at the eye hospital. This means that he has a higher than acceptable level of sickness absence. This could be indirectly discriminatory. Indirect discrimination can be justified in certain circumstances. Indirect discrimination can be difficult to apply in practice. Many situations can be covered in other ways, for example, through the duty to make reasonable adjustments. However, employers have a defence to indirect discrimination. The Equality Act specifies when this can happen. The employer has to prove that the less favourable treatment is a reasonable or proportionate means of achieving a real and legitimate need of the business. The law calls this a 'proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'. Discrimination on the basis of association or perception This is where the person does not have the protected characteristic him/herself, but is associated with someone who does or where the discriminator thinks he does have the characteristic (perception). This may sound odd, but it is where the less favourable treatment is because of a protected characteristic. It does not matter that the individual experiencing the discrimination does not have that characteristic. For example: Jane is treated less favourably by her employer because she needs to take more time away to care for her elderly blind mother. Although Jane isn't blind, her mother is and the less favourable treatment which Jane 5 experiences is because of her mother's disability. This part of the law can be very important to parents of disabled children and those with caring responsibilities for disabled adults. Harassment Harassment includes what is called 'conduct discrimination'. This is: Unwanted conduct on the grounds of a particular characteristic that has the purpose or the effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. For example: A sighted worker objects to a registered blind colleague's guide dog and frequently makes loud and false comments that the dog is smelly. The blind worker finds these comments embarrassing and feels that she is singled out for this attention. This is likely to amount to discrimination Although there are other types of harassment, this factsheet doesn't cover these. This is because those types only apply to harassment on the ground of someone's gender: sexual harassment. If you need information about this issue, please contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission (contact details can be found in section 4 below). Victimisation This is where an employer treats someone unfavourably because that person has brought legal proceedings under the Equality Act or given evidence or information in such proceedings or made an allegation that the employer has breached the Equality Act. All of the types of discrimination explained above apply to any of the protected characteristics. There is another type which only applies to people with disabilities - discrimination arising from disability. Discrimination arising from disability In employment situations, someone (usually an employer) discriminates against a disabled person if the employer treats the disabled person unfavourably because of something arising from that person's disability. 6 However, the Equality Act includes a defence to discrimination arising from disability. It is the same as the one for indirect discrimination: the employer has to prove that the less favourable treatment is a reasonable or proportionate means of achieving a real and legitimate need of the business. For example: Anne works as an administrator in a busy office. Anne experiences a sight loss (and meets the definition of disability). Anne's work performance worsens and she is dismissed because she cannot do as much work as a sighted colleague. The less favourable treatment isn't because of Anne's sight loss, but because of something arising out of it. Anne's poorer performance than her sighted colleague is due to something which arises out of her disability (she now has difficulty reading documents and her computer screen) it is not the fact of her disability itself. If the employer tried to justify the dismissal, he would have to show that it was a reasonable or proportionate means of achieving a real and legitimate need of the business - the need to complete a certain amount of work, to a specific standard in a given timescale. However, in this type of situation, an employer should comply with the duty to make reasonable adjustments, as these could be a way to deal with the issue. For example, the employer provides Anne with adapted software and a magnifier or CCTV. We explain the duty to make reasonable adjustments in the next section. This type of discrimination does not apply if the employer does not know and could not have reasonably been expected to know of the employee's disability. This is something which you should bear in mind if you are considering whether or not to tell your employer about your disability. Reasonable adjustments A failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person can also be a type of discrimination. 7 There is a single definition of what the duty to make reasonable adjustments includes. This applies across the different situations covered by the Act (such as employment or premises). There are three parts to the duty. These are called the 'requirements'. 1. The first requirement applies where a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non- disabled person in relation to a particular situation/service/function. PCPs can include policies, procedures or ways of working or providing a service. For example: An employer has a policy that all medical/hospital appointments have to be recorded as sick leave. This puts someone who has to have regular appointments at an ophthalmology department at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled employees. 2. The second requirement is to make reasonable adjustments to a physical feature which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person in relation to a particular situation/service/function. Many things can be physical features, such as the entrances/exits to a building as well as steps and also lighting. For example: An employer makes sure that there are Braille labels on lift buttons and on doors to rooms such as 'Meeting Room 1'. 3. The third requirement is to take reasonable steps to provide an auxiliary service if without this, a disabled person would be at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a particular situation/service/function, when compared to a non-disabled person. An auxiliary aid is something which provides support or assistance to a disabled person. An auxiliary service can cover many situations. For example: An employer provides text to speech software to assist a blind employee to read documents and to use its electronic systems. 8 Reasonable adjustments - accessible information Providing information in an accessible format can be a reasonable adjustment. For example: An employer makes sure that its staff handbook is available in the alternative formats for its staff, such as electronic format which can be downloaded from an intranet. It is important to bear in mind that there is no right to a particular adjustment as such. The employer has to make the adjustment(s) that is reasonable in the particular circumstances. This may not be the specific adjustment which a person seeks, but as long as the adjustment is reasonable, that is likely to be enough to comply with the duty. Some of the factors that are relevant to whether an adjustment is reasonable include: how effective it is in assisting the disabled person to overcome the barrier to access how practical it is to make the adjustment the cost of the adjustment the size and nature of the business/service-provider/authority etc the organisation's available resources - including budget availability of any assistance (including funding or expert advice; for example, from a rehabilitation officer etc) These are some of the relevant factors - there is no set and finite list of factors. 2. Employment under the Equality Act This next section of the factsheet explains the specific ways in which the Equality Act applies to employment situations. The Equality Act applies to: 9 Recruitment An employer must not discriminate in recruitment - including how applications are dealt with and interviews or by not offering someone a job. We explained earlier what types of employment are covered by the Equality Act. For example: an employer makes sure that all staff involved in selection and interviews are trained in equality and diversity. This is to make sure that they deal with all applications in a fair way and promote equality of opportunity. Terms of employment, benefits, and dismissal An employer must not discriminate: in the terms of the employment (employment contract, such as salary) how employer offers access/by not offering access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training or receiving any other benefit For example: John is a computer programmer and is diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and certified as partially sighted. John informs his employer of his sight loss. A month later, the other programmer in the company is sent on a training course, but John is not. John asks why not and is told that his manager thought that there was no point as John is going to go blind. This would be direct discrimination by failing to offer John the same opportunities for training as his non-disabled co-worker. by dismissing or subjecting the employee to any other detriment. For example: Darren has glaucoma. This worsens and Darren's consultant ophthalmologist tells him that he could be certified as partially sighted. Darren tells his employer who dismisses him because the employer thinks Darren won't be able to do his job. This is likely to amount to an unlawful dismissal by either direct discrimination or discrimination arising from a disability. Note: Darren's employer should have considered whether there were any possible reasonable adjustments. It should have done this before then considering dismissal. 10 For example: Raj undergoes a cataract operation and is away from work for some weeks to recuperate. Raj returns to work for 2 weeks, but then has to take a further week off work due to a minor complication resulting from the surgery. When he returns to work, Raj is told that he has exceeded the number of sick days employees are permitted to have within a 6 month period, and that this is treated as being unacceptable. He is told he must attend a disciplinary meeting. This is likely to amount to discrimination arising from disability or indirect discrimination by subjecting Raj to a detriment. It could also amount to a failure to make a reasonable adjustment. An employer must not victimise or harass by doing any of the above. Also, an employer is responsible (liable) for anything that is done by its employees as part of their employment. This means that the employer is responsible for any discrimination, including harassment, which is caused by one employee against another. An employer has a defence to this if it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination from taking place. For example, by ensuring that there are equal opportunities and dignity at work policies which are specifically drawn to the attention of all employees and training is provided on these. Reasonable adjustments in employment In this section, we give you information on the how the duty to make adjustments can apply in employment situations. The Equality Act says that employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is the way in which employers can support disabled staff to carry out their jobs. There are many different sorts of reasonable adjustments; we give examples of some of them below: Providing equipment (such as a CCTV). Providing software (such as ZoomText/JAWS/Supernova). Changing the working environment (altering lighting levels). Changing procedures (medical appointments about someone's disability are recorded as 'disability-related leave' rather than sick leave) or enabling someone to bring her assistance dog into the workplace (there may be 11 some limitations e.g. in a hospital to comply with infection control requirements). Making changes to a job description to reassign some duties to other staff. Providing a support worker. These are some examples; there are more examples in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Code of Practice. Reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process The duty includes making adjustments to the recruitment process. For example: Providing application forms in large print or another accessible format. Employers must also make reasonable adjustments to the shortlisting and interview process. For example, giving extra time for assessment tasks or providing materials in an accessible format, or allowing a person to write answers using a computer rather than by hand, providing an induction loop and a well lit room for someone with sight loss who also wears a hearing aid. Access to Work scheme Many "reasonable adjustments" can be made at minimal cost and involve little inconvenience. Assistance with funding some of the adjustments is available through the Government's Access to Work scheme, which can be accessed via your local jobcentre. Access to Work is a scheme run by Jobcentre Plus. The scheme provides advice and practical support to disabled people to enable them to work alongside their colleagues despite their disabilities. Access to Work pays a discretionary grant through Jobcentre Plus towards any extra employment costs that result from a disability. The adjustments which need to be made are normally identified by means of a work-based assessment. This can be funded by Access to Work, but is sometimes commissioned by your employer or their Occupational Health provider. Details of the application process and contact details for all Access to Work contact centres are covered in our Access to Work factsheet (details of where to find this can be found in section 5 below). 12 Please note that Access to Work may not pay for every adjustment. There is a list of adjustments which the scheme will or will not fund. You can get more information from Jobcentre Plus. Alternatively, please contact your local RNIB/Action for Blind People centre via our Helpline (contact details in section 4 below). Health and safety Health and safety is often given as a reason for dismissing or treating a visually impaired person less favourably. If employers try to use it as a defence to indirect discrimination or discrimination arising from disability, they will need to prove that there is a genuine problem with this. An employer can do this by means of risk assessments, or preferably specialist reports from appropriate professionals. An employer has to first show that it could not have made any adjustments - including transfer to another job - which would overcome the health and safety concern. Do I have to tell an employer about my disability? There is nothing which states that you have to tell an employer about your disability. However, you will not be able to succeed in a claim for discrimination arising from disability or a failure to make reasonable adjustments (unless you are a job applicant), if your employer didn't know or could not reasonably have been expected to know. An employer does not have to make a reasonable adjustment unless it knew or could reasonably be expected to know that you would need any adjustments. In addition, when applying for employment, many employers ask you say that all of the information on the application form is true. The form may also state that if any of the information is false or you fail to disclose information then the employer may use this as a reason for dismissal. 13 What if my employer asks about my disability? Under the Equality Act employers are not able to ask about an employee's health prior to making a job offer (including whether or not they are disabled) although there are exceptions. These are to help the employer to make reasonable adjustments to the interview process (for example, having any test questions in large print) or regarding abilities that are an essential part of the job (for example, a bus driver has to be able to see in order to hold a driving licence). If you think an employer has unlawfully asked questions about your disability, you should contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) - contact details can found in section 4 below). This is because only the EHRC can challenge this situation. We can help you to raise your concern with the EHRC. However, if the employer then uses the questions against you when making a decision not to employ you (or employ you on different terms), you will be able to take action yourself. This is because it would be unlawful discrimination. For example: Penny is has diabetic retinopathy and is registered partially sighted. She applies for a job in a bookshop and during the interview discloses her sight loss. The employer does not give her the job and says that it would give the wrong impression if customers saw Penny in the store with her symbol cane. This is likely to amount to direct discrimination by failing to offer her the job. What if I become disabled while I am working or my sight deteriorates? If you are concerned about carrying on your job, or about difficulties that you are having, you should contact your Disability Employment Adviser at your local job centre. S/he can talk about the Access to Work scheme; may be able to arrange for an assessment of your work or your skills; or arrange for rehabilitation. You can also contact one of our employment specialists for advice, via our Helpline (contact details can be found in section 4 below). 14 Remember that if you are in this sort of situation, you are likely to have the protection of the Equality Act. Advertisements It may be unlawful for an employer to advertise a vacancy which invites applications but excludes disabled people or people with any characteristic protected by the Equality Act. For example: Instead of advertising for a waitress, which would suggest the employer only wishes to hire women, the employer could say "waiting staff". This means that where, for example, an employer advertises a job with a requirement that a person have a driving licence, where the licence is not essential for the job, and there is no mention of reasonable adjustments to this requirement, the employer may be acting unlawfully. 3. What to do if you feel you have been discriminated against. If you believe you have experienced discrimination, there are a number of different ways you can challenge it. We explain these below. Grievance If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you, then you could use the employer's grievance procedure. A grievance is essentially a type of complaint. You as the employee are making a formal complaint that your employer has acted unlawfully and that this has breached your rights in employment law. It is important to make sure that employers and employees deal with these situations correctly, and they can be complex. This is why there should be a formal grievance procedure to help everyone deal with the grievance. All employers should have a grievance procedure. You should be able to find this in a staff handbook or ask the Human Resources (HR) department for it. If your employer does not have a formal grievance procedure, then the 15 independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has a model procedure. Please note that a grievance procedure applies to someone who is already an employee. Someone who is a job applicant would have to make a formal complaint. However, the employer might well adapt the grievance procedure and use it to cover this type of situation. Remember: if you believe that your employer had discriminated against you because of your disability and that this is in breach of the Equality Act (or Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland) you must clearly say so in the grievance. If you don't do this you may not be able to take out a case against your employer in the Employment Tribunal. This is because the Tribunal expects people to give the employer the opportunity to answer a grievance and resolve the grievance. Alternative Dispute Resolution Not every dispute has to go to the formal Employment Tribunal. It is possible to resolve many disputes through what is called 'alternative dispute resolution' (ADR). This covers a range of ways in which an employee (or job applicant) and employee can engage to try to resolve the dispute without having to go to the Employment Tribunal. Mediation This is the most common and popular form of ADR. Mediation can be an effective way of resolving disputes of all kinds and is now available to everyone. Mediation can save everyone a great deal of time and money, as well as the emotional trauma of a court case, especially those without the means to access legal help. The mediator is professionally trained and independent. His or her sole interest is in helping the parties to find a solution. However, they do not give legal advice or make any decisions or judgments in your case. There are a range of mediation schemes. Some of these are free, such as the ACAS mediation service or the mediation service provided by the charity LawWorks (details in section 4 below). Others are paid for. Usually, an 16 employer will pay for mediation to take place. The mediator should be independent and accredited by an independent mediation organisation. Some employers offer mediation by an in-house person, for example, someone who works in HR. This may be reasonable, but one has to be sure that the mediator is independent. If the person is an accredited mediator and there are other procedures in place to ensure that the person is kept separate from the person against whom the grievance is brought then this could be enough. Alternatively, ACAS provides a work-place mediation scheme. You can find more information on the ACAS website (details in section 4 below). Employment Tribunal If you are unable to resolve a dispute through other means, such as a grievance or an appeal, then you could go to an Employment Tribunal and ask it to decide your case. You can do this if your complaint is against your current employer or because you were turned down for a job. You can also take a case against a former employer. For example: Anne is dismissed when she tells her employer about her sight loss and that she has been certified as partially sighted. This section gives you some general information about the Employment Tribunals. You can get more detailed information from the Employment Tribunals' website (details in section 4 below). The Employment Tribunal is an independent judicial tribunal. It is similar to a court, but not as formal. There are three people on the tribunal panel: one is from an employer background, one is from an employee/trade union background. The third is a professional lawyer (a solicitor or barrister) and is called the Employment Judge. All of the panel are entirely independent and have experience and special training in employment disputes. Do I have to go to the Tribunal in a certain time? Yes. If you want to start a case in the Employment Tribunal you have to do this within a specific period of time. This is three months from the date of the act of discrimination. This is a strict time limit and if you go past the three month deadline, then you won't be able to start your case unless the Tribunal 17 gives you permission. It will only do this if it thinks that it is 'just and equitable' to do so in all of the circumstances. This is at the discretion of the Tribunal and the courts have said that extending the three month time limit should be the exception rather than the rule. This is why it is very important to start your case within the time limit. How do I start a case? You start a case using a special form called an ET1. You can get the form from the Employment Tribunal. There are different parts to it. You have to give details about you, your employer, your job (if you were employed) and how you believe the employer discriminated against you. The Employment Tribunal produces a guide to filling in the form. You can get this from the Employment Tribunal (details in section 4 below). Does the Employment Tribunal have to make reasonable adjustments for me? Yes. The Employment Tribunal is a public authority as it is part of HM Courts and Tribunal Service and responsible to the Ministry of Justice. It has to make reasonable adjustments to its processes and procedures. This includes making sure that the forms are accessible and that when it writes to you, it uses an accessible format. If you need the Tribunal to make reasonable adjustments, you should tell the tribunal this clearly and in writing. Please note that the employer does not have to make reasonable adjustments for you in the way in which it responds to your claim. However, you can ask the Tribunal for an order to require the employer or its representatives to provide you with information in an accessible format and the Tribunal can consider this. Both you and the employer have a duty to help the Tribunal to meet its duty to deal with the case justly and fairly. What will the Tribunal do? If you win, the Tribunal can do various things for you. These are called 'remedies'. The remedies the Tribunal can award are: Declaration: this is where the Tribunal states the rights of the complainant (the person bringing the case) and the respondent (the employer) in relation 18 to the dispute. For example, that the respondent employer directly discriminated against a disabled complainant by treating her less favourably because of her disability. This can be an important remedy as it is a formal recognition that discrimination did take place. Compensation: this is the most frequently sought after remedy. It is an order that the respondent pays compensation to the complainant. Compensation tends to have two main parts. Firstly, compensation for any financial loss. Secondly, compensation for the discrimination itself - this is called compensation for 'injury to feelings'. It recognises the hurt, distress and emotional impact of the discrimination upon someone. For example: Anne wins her case against her former employer for dismissing her. The employer has to pay compensation (damages) to cover Anne's lost wages from the date of dismissal up to the date of the Tribunal hearing. There may also be an award of damages for future loss of income, but this will be for a defined period of time, which the tribunal sets - for example, two months. It can also cover any other lost benefits, and also pension contributions. The employer also has to pay Anne compensation for injury to her feelings caused by the discrimination - this is to deal with the breach of the Equality Act. The amount of the compensation is set by the Tribunal and depends on the facts of the case and guidelines set by the appeal courts. These are orders of the Employment Tribunal, and so the employer has to pay them. Recommendation: this is where the Tribunal orders the respondent employer to take certain specific steps within a set period. The aim is to eliminate or reduce the adverse impact on either the complaint or any other person who might be affected by the situation underlying the Tribunal case. For example: the Employment Tribunal orders Anne's former employers to set up a panel to review its dismissal procedures and to get independent advice on how to do this and to ensure that all managers undergo compulsory equal opportunities and disability awareness training. This will benefit other disabled people still employed by Anne's former employer. Reinstatement/re-engagement: a Tribunal can order an employer to re- employ someone it had dismissed. This is a power which it has under general 19 employment law. It is not part of the Equality Act, but if someone was unfairly dismissed due to discrimination, then the Tribunal could make an order of reinstatement or re-engagement. Note: unfair dismissal is part of general employment law, not the Equality Act. The right not to be unfairly dismissed only applies to someone who has at least one year's continuous service (or equivalent for part-time roles). If someone is employed for less than one year, then they cannot bring an unfair dismissal claim, but could still bring a discrimination claim if the dismissal was discriminatory. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is sent copies of all Tribunal claims and they can help to settle a claim before it reaches a Tribunal. Before submitting a tribunal claim, you can send a 'Statutory Questionnaire' to the employer asking them about the discrimination. Although they do not have to answer the questionnaire, if they do not do so within a reasonable time, or if their answers are evasive, the Tribunal can hold this against them. What if I lose? If you lose, you have a right to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. You can only appeal if the tribunal has made an error of law. Disagreeing with the Tribunal's decision is not enough. You have to appeal within a specific period of time. The Employment Appeal Tribunal is an independent judicial body. Each appeal panel is chaired by a Judge. The Employment Appeal Tribunal can give you more information (details in section 4 below) In most situations, if someone loses a case in the Employment Tribunal, they do not have to pay the winning side's legal costs. There are some limited exceptions where a party can be ordered to pay costs to the winning side. These include where the case was 'frivolous or vexatious'. This means where the case had no legal merit and was brought to deliberately inconvenience the employer. Also, if the party has acted very badly, for example, by failing to comply with deadlines or the Tribunal's orders or by other unreasonable conduct. 20 4. Further sources of information Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. Tel: 08457 47 47 47 Text Relay: 18001 08457 474747 Website: www.acas.org.uk LawWorks LawWorks is a charity which aims to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay for it and who are unable to access legal aid. Tel: 020 7092 3940 Fax: 020 7242 3407 Website: www.lawworks.org.uk The Equality and Human Rights Commission The Equality and Human Rights Commission have a statutory remit to promote and monitor human rights; and to protect, enforce and promote equality across the nine "protected" grounds - age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. Tel: There are different numbers for Wales, England and Scotland (check the website below for details) Email: email@example.com Website: www.equalityhumanrights.com 21 The Code of Practice The employment provisions of the Equality Act are supplemented by a Code of Practice on employment and recruitment. This will give practical guidance on what is expected of employers and others. Although the Code is not legally binding, it must be taken into account by Employment Tribunals where relevant. You can download the Code from the Equality and Human Rights Commission website (www.equalityhumanrights.com). It is available in a range of formats. Employment Tribunal Employment Tribunals hear claims about matters to do with employment. These include: unfair dismissal; redundancy payments; and discrimination. Tel: 0845 795 9775 Website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/employment Employment Appeal Tribunal The main function of the Employment Appeal Tribunal is to hear appeals from decisions made by Employment Tribunals. Website: www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/employment-appeals The RNIB Legal Rights Service The RNIB Legal Rights Service is a specialist level advice service. We hold the Community Legal Service Specialist Quality Mark - this is a quality assurance standard for legal advice providers. We can give you information and legal advice about the Equality Act (or Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland). In some situations we may be able to provide you with representation. This is a free service for blind and partially sighted people. We use a set of criteria to help us work out what cases we can support. You can contact us through the Helpline, details of which are given below. The RNIB Legal Rights Service produces a series of 22 factsheets on the Equality Act, all of which are available in alternative formats. RNIB Helpline Our Helpline is your direct line to the support, advice and products you need. We'll help you to find out what's available in your area and beyond, both from RNIB and other organisations. Whether you want to know more about your eye condition, buy a product from our shop, join our library, find out about possible benefit entitlements, be put in touch with a trained counsellor, or make a general enquiry, we're only a call away. We're ready to answer your call Monday to Friday 8.45am to 6.00pm and Saturday 9.00am to 4.00pm. Outside these times leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Calls cost no more than a standard rate call to an 01 or 02 number, and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls. The price of calls varies between different providers, including between landline and mobile companies, so check with your provider if you are unsure. Tel: 0303 123 9999 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Equality Commission for Northern Ireland The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is an independent public body established under the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Their mission is to advance equality, promote equality of opportunity, encourage good relations and challenge discrimination through promotion, advice and enforcement. Tel: 028 90 500 600 Textphone: 028 90 500 589 Enquiry Line: 028 90 890 890 Fax: 028 90 248 687 Email: email@example.com Web: www.ecni.org.uk 23 Your local Citizens Advice Bureau The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, and by influencing policymakers. Visit the website below to find your local office. Web: www.citizensadvice.org.uk or to find your local law centre go here: www.lawcentres.org.uk/lawcentres/detail/find/ Your local Law Centre Law Centres are not-for-profit legal practices providing free legal advice and representation to disadvantaged people. Web: www.lawcentres.org.uk Your Trade Union The TUC has 58 affiliated unions representing 6.2 million working people from all walks of life, they campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad. They negotiate in Europe, and at home build links with political parties, business, local communities and wider society. Tel: 020 7636 4030 Fax: 020 7636 0632 Web: www.tuc.org.uk Become a Member of RNIB Join our community of RNIB Members and make a difference to your life and to the lives of other people with sight loss. Receive regular information through Vision magazine, get involved by attending member events, chat to others through the online forum or participate in telephone book clubs. Call RNIB Membership on 0303 1234 555 or visit rnib.org.uk/membership to join or to find out more. Disclaimer 24 This factsheet is not an authoritative statement of the law. Whilst we have made every effort to ensure that the information we have provided is correct, we cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any acts or failures to act on the part of anyone reading this factsheet. This factsheet is not a substitute for legal advice. If you feel that you need advice, please contact us or one of the organisations listed in this factsheet. 5. Other factsheets in this series We also produce the following employment factsheets, which you may find of use: Access to Work Looking for work Staying in work Self-employment Job seeking resources Trainee Grade Scheme All these factsheets can be found in electronic form at www.rnib.org.uk/employment . For print, braille, large print or audio, please contact Ross Hedley (RNIB Evidence and Service Impact) firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0117 934 1718. Factsheet updated: May 2012 25