EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY POLICY by G4SUK622

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									               Equality and Diversity Policy
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1.     Introduction                                                p2

2.     What is equality and how does it relate to diversity?       p4

3.     Our Vision                                                  p4

4.     Why equality and diversity is important to Northumberland
       County Council                                          p5

5.     Legislative and Policy Framework                            p7

6.     Our Equalities Standards                                    p8

       6.a     General                                             p8
       6.b     Age                                                 p12
       6.c     Disability                                          p13
       6.d     Gender                                              p15
       6.e     Race                                                p16
       6.f     Religion and belief                                 p18
       6.g     Sexual Orientation and Transgender                  p20

7.     Implementing this policy                                    p22
            The Equality Standard for Local Government             p22
            Responsibility for implementation                      p23

8.     Monitoring and Review                                       p25

9.     How can I find out more?                                    p25




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1.     Introduction
1.1    This policy, alongside the policies, plans and strategies that sit beneath
       it, acknowledges that

            People may be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their
             age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, and sexual
             orientation.
            We (Northumberland County Council) may unfairly discriminate
             against people in
             o accessing and using our services and in
             o how we treat our staff, including in recruiting, employing,
                 training and promoting them.

1.2    This Equality and Diversity Policy is a written statement showing that
       Northumberland County Council actively opposes discrimination. It
       also

       a) demonstrates our commitment to making the County Council a fully
          accessible and inclusive organisation that welcomes and respects
          the diversity of its customers, elected members, staff and visitors to
          the County.

       b) provides the overall policy framework for our action to tackle
          discrimination and promote equality. Beneath it sits our policies to
          eliminate unfair discrimination and promote equality, in both our
          employment and training of staff and in our delivery of services.

       However, far from being set in stone, this policy will be reviewed and
       amended as national policy, legislation, and the Council’s own thinking
       develops.

1.3    Northumberland County Council provides a wide range of services to a
       wide range of people and is the largest employer in the County. As
       such our actions and decisions affect the lives of everyone in
       Northumberland to some degree. We acknowledge that some
       members of our community and visitors to Northumberland may have
       difficulties in accessing our services or finding a job with us. Each
       member of our community and visitor is entitled to expect fair and
       equal treatment in all dealings with the Council.

1.4    The Council recognises that it has specific legal responsibilities to treat
       everyone fairly. However, legislation alone will not bring about
       changes in values, attitudes, practices and behaviour which are
       necessary if we are to achieve a genuine equality of opportunity for all,
       including those not covered by the law.

1.5    We recognise, also, that policies by themselves are not enough to
       change things. The success of this policy requires strong leadership,


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       ownership and commitment by elected members and staff, with
       adequate resources to make things happen.

1.6    Although we have a distinct set of equality policies, we do not see
       equality as an issue that stands apart from our everyday work. To help
       us manage the way in which we will integrate equalities into the County
       Council’s day to day work - planning, policy making, service delivery
       and employment - we have adopted the Equality Standard for Local
       Government. This is a nationally recognised framework, which we will
       use to measure our progress in achieving equality and diversity on
       behalf of our communities, elected members and our workforce. This
       standard sets out the five stages we will go through to make the
       County Council and Northumberland itself a fairer place to work, live
       and visit.




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2.     What is equality and how does it relate to
       diversity?
2.1    Equality is:
       • about creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and
         have the opportunity to fulfil their potential – creating a level playing
         field
       • about removing or reducing all forms of unfair discrimination and
         has been underpinned by legislation
       • about breaking down barriers for people in particular groups such
         as black & minority ethnic communities, disabled people, gay men/
         lesbians/bisexuals/ transgender people, younger and older people,
         people from different religious & faith backgrounds, and men and
         women.

2.2    Diversity is:
       • about including everyone
       • valuing differences
       • harnessing differences in individuals to the benefit of both the
          organisation and the individual, by allowing people with different
          perspectives and views to use their unique blend of skills and
          character to improve the quality and performance of the Council
       • having a better understanding of the diverse needs of our
          customers.

2.3    Treating all people fairly, in both our employment, training and in our
       delivery of services means we are able to make the best use of the
       diversity of our elected members and staff to reflect the diversity within
       our communities and deliver services to those communities.

3.     Our Vision

3.1    Equality and Diversity are at the heart of the County Council’s vision for
       Northumberland, which commits the Council to:

            “ensure that by 2010 Northumberland enjoys a prosperous
           economy supported by high quality services tailored to meet the
           particular needs of all the diverse communities of the County. Our
           communities will be vibrant and sustainable and everyone living
           here will have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”

3.2    Promoting equality of opportunity and treating people fairly is one of the
       seven values that underpin our vision. We recognise that some people
       cannot stand up for themselves. We have a duty to those who are
       most vulnerable and least able to speak up. We give priority to offering
       people an equal opportunity to succeed in life, to make sure that they
       feel valued, and able to contribute to society rather than being isolated.



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3.3      Although this is a Northumberland County Council policy, we believe
         that tackling unfair discrimination and promoting equality is in the best
         interests of all those who live in, work in and visit Northumberland.
         Further, we believe that this work is best not done alone, which is why
         we are working with other public bodies and voluntary & community
         organisations in the County to this end.

3.4      We will know that we are succeeding when:


            Service delivery is appropriate to all sections of the
             population.

            County Council buildings and services are accessible to
             everyone including disabled people, young and older people,
             people whose first language is not English and other groups
             of people.

            Our workforce profile reflects the diverse communities of the
             County.

            Discrimination, victimisation and harassment are not
             tolerated.

            All elected members and employees understand their
             responsibilities to make the County Council and
             Northumberland itself a fairer place to work, live and visit.

            The County Council complies with all equality law.

            The County Council engages with all sections of the
             community about our employment, planning and delivery of
             services.


4.       Why equality and diversity is important to
         Northumberland County Council
4.1      Equality and diversity is important to us for many reasons, including:

      a) Equality is a value fundamental to the County Council. We believe that
         everyone should be treated with dignity, courtesy and respect
         regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, or
         religion and belief. It is the right of every human being to be treated in
         this way.

      b) We are required to work within the law, including the laws that cover
         equality issues (see page 7 for details).



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   c) Inequality and unfair discrimination can have a devastating effect on
      people’s lives.

   d) Inequality is not in the financial interests of the County Council. Costs
      which may be incurred through unfair and unequal policies and actions
      include those arising from:
           Legal action
           The loss of productivity of staff who are treated unfairly including
             time away from work due to stress and illness
           The reduction of the County Council’s ability to recruit staff with
             valuable experience, knowledge and skills.

   e) We aim to have a workforce at least as diverse as the population of
      Northumberland. Ensuring that we recruit, train, promote and treat our
      staff equally, whatever their salary level and whichever part of the
      Council they work in, means it is more likely that we have a diverse
      workforce.

   f) Like the rest of Britain, Northumberland has changed over the last few
      decades. Our population is ageing, there are more women working
      than ever before (76% of the Council’s staff are women), there are
      more positive attitudes towards, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
      people, a more ethnically diverse population, and we have moved
      away from segregating disabled people from the rest of society.

       These changes mean that the County Council needs to understand this
       diversity so that we deliver our services to meet the needs, equally, of
       our diverse communities. However, the County Council is not only a
       provider of services. We also pay other organisations to provide
       services on our behalf. We will ensure that such organisations comply
       with this policy and share our vision. Further, as an organisation run by
       people you elect, we have a role in representing and leading the
       communities of Northumberland. The more we understand the needs
       of our different communities, the better we will be at carrying out these
       roles. To sum up, we believe that working to ensure fair treatment for
       all will improve the quality of our services.




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5.     Legislative and Policy Framework
5.1    To assist in the realisation of our vision, we recognise the importance
       of promoting equality of opportunity across all our services as well as in
       the employment of staff. To this end we have developed this Equality
       and Diversity Policy which reflects this expectation, accepting our
       responsibilities under the:

       i.    Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005
       ii.   Disability Rights Commission Act 1999
       iii.  Equal Pay Act 1970 (as amended)
       iv.   Sex Discrimination Act 1986
       v.    Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999
       vi.   Sex Discrimination (Indirect Discrimination and Burden of Proof)
             Regulations 1999
       vii. Race Relations Act 1976
       viii. Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
       ix. Human Rights Act 1998
       x. Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment 1999
       xi. The Civil Partnership Act 2004
       xii. The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
       xiii. The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003

       This list is not exhaustive or exclusive.

County Council policy

5.2    This policy is an overarching framework for the County Council’s
       existing and future equality policies. In being so, it provides a
       consistent approach to equalities issues in terms of implementation,
       monitoring and amendment where appropriate. Further, it is not a
       stand alone policy but one that underpins all areas of our activities and
       reflects the style and aspirations of the Council. As such, this policy is
       linked to a wide range of strategic and operational policies, strategies
       and action plans, such as Getting Personal, the Council’s Strategic
       Statement 2005/09 and our Social Inclusion Strategy.


5.3    Currently, the Council has the following equality and diversity policies
       in place:

       i.      Accessible Information Policy
       ii.     Equal Opportunities in Service Delivery
       iii.    Race Equality Scheme 2005/08
       iv.     Dignity at Work Policy (Harassment policy)
       v.      Dignity at Work Guidelines
       vi.     Valuing Ability (Disability discrimination guidelines for managers)
       vii.    Focus on Ability (Disability discrimination guidelines for
               employees)
       viii.   Equality and Diversity Policy Statement

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        ix.        Diversity and Equality in Employment


5.4      This policy replaces the Equality and Diversity Policy Statement and
         Equal Opportunities in Service Delivery, approved by the County
         Council in September 2003 and in 1991, respectively.



6.       Our Equalities Standards
6.1      In order to ensure the consistent application of the County Council’s
         existing equality policies towards all customers, councillors and
         employees, the following standards have been developed. The
         standards consist of a General Standard and six further standards
         which highlight some of the specific issues of the groups mentioned
         above. The standards describe the reasons why such groups may be
         the subject of unequal treatment and intolerance and explain what the
         County Council will do to ensure that all job applicants, employees,
         councillors, customers and visitors to the county are treated fairly and
         equitably.


6a       General Standards

6a1.1         Our Commitment to customers and communities

6a.1.1        We aim to ensure that all groups and individuals within the
              communities across Northumberland are given full opportunity to
              benefit from the services and job opportunities we provide. No
              customer or potential customer will be unfairly discriminated against
              or receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of gender,
              race, disability, sexual orientation, age or religion and belief.

6a.1.2        We believe in openness and fairness in our service to the public
              and our dealings with each other. Each individual is entitled to
              dignity, courtesy and respect.

6a.1.3        We are committed to improving services and meeting the needs of
              the communities we serve. We recognise the importance of
              effective consultation and communication.

6a.1.4        In particular we will:

              i.     Promote the provision of quality services, whether directly or
                     by external providers; and will ensure the delivery of such
                     services is undertaken in an anti-discriminatory manner.




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           ii.     Carry out a process of equality impact and assessments, to
                   see how well our policies, procedures and services meet the
                   needs of customers and communities.

           iii.    Consult all groups within our communities and the people and
                   the organisations that represent them about on our services
                   and take account of their views.

           iv.     Identify key priorities to address and targets to achieve.

           v.      Treat all customers with respect, courtesy and dignity.

           vi.     Provide information about services in a range of formats, if
                   requested, for example large print, audio tape and languages
                   other than English.

           vii.    Promote an ethos of care and respect amongst our employees
                   to eliminate unfair discrimination in everything we do.

           viii.   Endeavour to ensure full access (including physical) to
                   services.

           ix.     Monitor our services and their use, including complaints about
                   unfair treatment and racist incidents, and ensure appropriate
                   action.

           x.      In planning our services, we aim to consult all sectors of the
                   community and to pay special attention to groups whose views
                   we find hard to obtain.


6a.2     Our commitment to councillors and employees

6a.2.1     We aim to be a fair and reasonable employer and will do what we
           can to ensure that all individuals are selected, promoted and treated
           solely on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities. This
           includes ensuring a positive climate in the workplace where
           individual differences are respected and valued, employees work
           productively with one another, are given every opportunity to fulfil
           their personal and professional potential, and balance the needs of
           their families with the needs of our services.

6a.2.2     We aim to have a culture where everyone is valued and where
           differences, whether visible or not, are welcomed. Equality is the
           responsibility of employees at all levels and every employee can
           influence how equality is achieved.

61.2.3     It is in everyone’s best interests to make sure that all our employees
           and potential employees can develop their skills and talents to the
           full.


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6a.2.4     To achieve these aims we will seek to:

           i.      Recognise that people from different backgrounds can bring
                   fresh ideas and perceptions. This can make the way work is
                   done more efficient and enable services to meet the needs of
                   the community more effectively.

           ii.     Promote best practice in recruitment and selection practices.

           iii.    Take steps to progress equality in pay and other terms and
                   conditions of employment.

           iv.     Carry out a process of equality impact and assessments, to
                   see how well our policies, procedures and services meet the
                   needs of councillors and employees.

           v.      Treat all employees with dignity, courtesy and respect,
                   acknowledging strengths and helping to overcome any
                   weaknesses.


           vi.     Create a working environment that encourages an
                   understanding and appreciation of the needs of others and
                   deals with oppressive behaviour, harassment and bullying.

           vii.    Consult with employees regarding flexible working and
                   promote arrangements, such as family friendly policies, where
                   this can be balanced with the needs of customers and the
                   efficient operation of services.

           viii.   Make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

           ix.     Listen and learn from our employees.

           x.      Make clear the action an employee may take if s/he feels
                   unfairly treated.

           xi.     Provide training for employees to actively put this policy into
                   practice.

           xii.    Ensure all councillors and staff understand their
                   responsibilities in making equality a reality.


6a.3 Specific standards
6a.3.1     Below, we have set out

                  some of the main issues for people who are discriminated
                   against on the basis of their gender, race, impairments, age,
                   sexual orientation, and religion or belief.

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                the County Council’s commitments to tackle discrimination on
                 the basis of these six identities.

6a.3.2     We do not believe there should be a hierarchy of discrimination
           where one form of discrimination is more important than another.
           We have set out this policy in this way because we recognise that
           different people will be discriminated against unfairly on the basis of
           different identities at different times. However, we all have more
           than one identity (e.g. no-one has a gender alone, but an age too).
           We recognise that discrimination can occur on multiple grounds e.g.
           when the person appears to have been treated less favourably on
           the grounds of sex but may have equally received such treatment
           due to race, disability, sexual orientation or religion and belief. We
           are committed to dealing with multiple discrimination when it
           arises.

6a.3.3     In addition to this, we recognise that some people may be isolated
           from other people who share their identity because they live in a
           remote rural part of Northumberland. This may increase their
           experience of inequality.




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6b       Age
6b.1 Issues

         Northumberland County Council recognises that age discrimination can
         occur to both younger and older people. Ageism is discrimination
         against people based on stereotypes about their age. These
         stereotypes are based on assumptions about an individual’s ability and
         potential. For example, people over 50 may be considered to be
         economically unproductive, less able or willing to adapt to change,
         more difficult to train and a less worthwhile investment. Younger and
         older people can suffer harassment, from verbal abuse to violence.
         Young people are sometimes treated as though their views are
         unimportant because it is thought they lack experience, maturity or
         commitment. Like others, young people can experience multiple
         discrimination and inequality. Examples include young people facing
         racism, young women, young disabled people and young travellers.

6b.2 Our commitments

6b.2.1      The council is committed to ensuring that age itself is not a barrier
            to the progress of applicants for jobs or existing employees. The
            Council will deliver this commitment by ensuring that

               The Equal Opportunities in Employment Policy is applied and
                regularly assessed
               Job applicants are not discriminated against for reason of their
                age, but judged on their competency, qualifications, experience
                and skills
               All employees are given equal access to training and
                development opportunities, regardless of their age.
               we will not tolerate the unequal treatment of customers,
                councillors, or staff for reasons of their age.
               all age groups are included in consultation activities unless there
                are valid reasons for not so doing
            

6b.3 Legislation

         There is currently no legislation against discrimination on the grounds
         of age. However legislation to outlaw age discrimination in
         employment and vocational training will be introduced in 2006

6b.4 Relevant County Council Policies

         Diversity and Equality in Employment
         Flexible Working Guidelines




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6c       Disability
6c.1.1 Issues

6c.1.1       In Northumberland, there are 24,000 (representing 7.8% of our
             population) disabled people2 and this number is growing as our
             population gets older.

6c.1.2       We recognise that disabled people have historically faced
             discrimination because of their disabilities. This includes people
             with physical and sensory disabilities, learning difficulties and
             people who experience mental/emotional stress. Disabled people
             may face discrimination in all areas of their lives, particularly when
             they are trying to access education, training and jobs, and receiving
             all kinds of services. There is legislation to tackle this, which
             councils and other service providers must put into practice.
             3
              Disability equality is about making sure that we tackle the following
             problems.

                 Physical or environmental – examples include steps, stairs,
                  and unsuitable signs and facilities.
                 Organisational – the way our policies, procedures and
                  practices could exclude disabled people, for example, an
                  information leaflet not being available on tape or in large print.
                 Attitudinal – the way disabled people are viewed, for example,
                  pitied or felt sorry for.


6c.2     Our commitments

         The County Council is committed to ensuring that customers or
         employees are not discriminated against for reasons related to
         disability. We have adopted the social model of disability, thereby
         acknowledging that the majority of disabled people are disabled more
         by society's attitudes and the way that society is organised, than by
         their impairment. In this model it is the disabling society which is the
         problem to be solved rather than the impairments of the disabled
         person.

         We are committed to ensuring that:

            All current services and policies are reviewed using the County
             Council’s agreed process of equality impact assessment with the
2
  As defined by the number of people claiming Attendance Allowance and Disability Living
Allowance (Department for Work and Pensions figures). The 2001 census recorded 60,470
(19.7%) people with limiting long term illness.
3
 Taken from ‘Access to services – disability equality in local government’ by the Local
Government Association and Disability Rights Commission, 2003.

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           intention of amending any such service or policy which
           disadvantages disabled customers.
          Disabled job applicants who meet the minimum requirements for
           the post are interviewed in line with our Diversity and Equality in
           Employment Policy
          Work towards compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act
           1995, particularly with regard to access to buildings, continues with
           a view to making reasonable adjustments where appropriate
          Ill treatment of disabled employees, elected members or customers
           is not tolerated
          We give due weight to the need to promote disability equality in
           relation to planning, policy-making, service delivery, regulation,
           inspection, enforcement and employment. We will do this in line
           with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.

6c.3   Legislation

       Disability Discrimination Act 1995
       Disability Discrimination Act 2005

6c.4   Relevant County Council Policies

       Valuing Ability (Disability discrimination guidelines for managers)
       Focus on Ability (Disability discrimination guidelines for employees)
       Diversity and Equality in Employment
       Dignity at Work Policy (Harassment policy)
       Dignity at Work Guidelines
       Accessible Information Policy
       Flexible Working Guidelines




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6d       Gender
6d.1 Issues

6d.1.1      The County Council recognises that discrimination against both
            men and women can occur which may result in inequality of access
            to services, employment, unequal pay, and development
            opportunities. However, sexism or sex discrimination, which stems
            from the idea that men and women have narrowly defined roles, is
            mainly experienced by women.

6d.1.2      Women may be discriminated against as a result of caring
            responsibilities, marital status or general prejudice while men may
            be discriminated against in certain types of employment and
            services.


6d.2 Our commitments

         We are committed to ensuring that:-
          All current services and policies are reviewed using the County
           Council’s agreed process of equality impact assessment with the
           intention of amending any such service or policy which
           disadvantages customers or staff for reasons of gender
          Employees returning from maternity leave whether in full or part-
           time status are treated no less favourably than any other employee
          Employment, promotion and development opportunities do not
           unfairly discriminate against men or women
          That interview panels are made up of more than one gender, where
           possible
          Part-time employees are not disadvantaged
          Harassment of councillors, employees or customers for reasons of
           their gender is not tolerated

6d.3 Legislation

         Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and 1986
         Equal Pay Act 1970

6d.4 Relevant County Council Policies

         Diversity and Equality in Employment
         Dignity at Work Policy (Harassment policy)
         Dignity at Work Guidelines
         Flexible Working Guidelines




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6e       Race
6e.1     Issues

6e.1.1     We acknowledge that racism exists in Northumberland and is a
           blight on the lives of those who experience it. Black people and
           people from other minority ethnic communities, including refugees,
           gypsies and travellers, may face discrimination in all areas of their
           lives. They are particularly vulnerable to racism, harassment, and
           hate crime. This can have a powerful effect on their ability to find a
           job and to use a variety of services and facilities.

6e.1.2     Since we believe that racism is a problem for all, our policies and
           procedures to tackle racism and promote race equality are for both
           the majority white population and for the minorities in the County.

6e.1.3     There are a small number of black and minority ethnic residents in
           Northumberland (totalling 1.9% of the population) and especially
           few in rural areas. Because of this, we may be more at risk of not
           taking their needs and views into account. Also, we may have less
           understanding about their lives and cultures because they are not in
           the majority.


6e.2     Our commitments

6e.2.1     We are committed to eliminating unlawful racial discrimination and
           promoting race equality in Northumberland. We want all the people
           of Northumberland to be able to participate fully in the social and
           economic life of the county, without fear of unfair discrimination.

6e.2.2     This commitment is enshrined in our Race Equality Scheme. The
           scheme covers our work to promote race equality and tackle racism
           as an employer and as a major provider of services. It complies
           with the duties required by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act
           2000.

6e.2.3     It places an enforceable duty on us to:
            Eliminate unlawful racial discrimination,
            Promote equality of opportunity; and
            Promote good relations, between people from different racial
               groups.

6e.2.4     We will implement our Race Equality Scheme in the same way we
           are implementing all our work to achieve equality; following the
           approach of the Equality Standard for Local Government. For
           example, we will undertake race equality impact assessments as
           part of our programme to assess the impact of our policies, services
           and procedures in relation to all the people covered by this policy.


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6e.2.5      For details of our commitments and actions to tackle racism and
            promote race equality, please read our Race Equality Scheme.

6e.3     Legislation

         The Race Relations Act (1976)
         The Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000)

6e.4     Relevant County Council Policies

         Race Equality Scheme 2005/08
         Diversity and Equality in Employment
         Dignity at Work Policy (Harassment policy)
         Dignity at Work Guidelines
         Flexible Working Guidelines




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6f       Religion and belief
6f.1     Issues

6f.1.1      We recognise that people may be discriminated against because of
            their religion or beliefs and we uphold and respect the rights of our
            employees, and individuals within the community, to practise their
            religion or beliefs. People can suffer harassment and hate crime
            because of their religion or beliefs.

6f.1.2      Harassment based on religious principles can take many forms;
            however, there are two general categories of religious
            discrimination: a) coercion to participate or not participate in
            religious activities; and b) a hostile environment, for example a lack
            of sensitivity to people’s religion or belief.

6f.1.3      Individuals and groups within Northumberland and County Council
            employees have the right to practise their religious beliefs.


6f.2     Our commitments

6f.2.1      Northumberland County Council respects and supports the right of
            councillors, employees, customers and visitors to express their
            religion, belief or culture providing such expression does not affect
            the legitimate rights of others.

6f.2.2      In so doing, the County Council is committed to ensuring that no job
            applicant, employee, councillor or customer is discriminated against
            on the grounds of their religion, belief or culture by:-

                 Taking reasonable steps to accommodate the needs of
                  employees or customers in the practice of their religion, belief
                  or culture taking into account the needs of the service and
                  customers.
                 Ensuring that harassment of employees or customers for
                  reasons of their religion, belief or culture is not tolerated.
                 Assess the impact of our policies, procedures and services on
                  people with religious and other beliefs.

6f.3     Legislation

         The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (SI
         2003/1660) that came into force on 2 December 2003 making
         discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief unlawful in
         employment and vocational training for the first time in Britain. The
         regulations apply to discrimination on grounds of religion and religious
         belief for example Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity or
         any similar philosophical belief for example atheism or humanism.


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6f.4   Relevant County Council Policies

          Equality and Diversity in Employment
          Dignity at Work Policy (Harassment policy)
          Dignity at Work Guidelines
          Flexible Working Guidelines




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6g       Sexual Orientation and Transgender
6g.1 Issues

6g.1.1      Employment procedures and services can often assume that
            everyone is or should be heterosexual.

6g.1.2      Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals experience discrimination
            because of attitudes and practices. Lesbians, gay men and
            bisexuals who are open about their sexuality, and also people who
            are not open about their sexuality (but are assumed to be lesbian,
            gay, bisexual) often face discrimination when trying to gain access
            to education, training, job opportunities and mainstream services.
            They may also experience bullying at school and at work.

6g.1.3      Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees are also partners and carers,
            and we recognise this.

6g.1.4      Issues for transgender people have many overlaps with gay,
            lesbian and bisexual issues, but there are also issues that are
            unique to transgender people.

6g.2 Our commitments

6g.2.1      The County Council is committed to ensuring that customers,
            elected members or employees are not discriminated against for
            reasons of their sexual orientation or because they are transgender.

6g.2.2      We are committed to ensuring that:
             All current services and policies are reviewed using the County
              Council’s agreed process of equality impact assessments with
              the intention of amending any such service or policy which
              disadvantages customers or staff for reasons of their sexual
              orientation or because they are transgender.
             Harassment of employees, elected members or customers for
              reasons of their sexual orientation or because they are
              transgender, will not be tolerated.
             We work with others to make communities safer and to enable
              lesbians, gay men, bisexual men and women and transgender
              people to live without prejudice and fear.


6g.3 Legislation

         The Sexual Orientation Employment Equality Regulations 2003 outlaw
         discrimination in employment and vocational training on the grounds of
         sexual orientation. The regulations cover discrimination on the grounds
         of perceived as well as actual sexual orientation i.e. assuming correctly
         or incorrectly that someone is lesbian, gay, heterosexual or bisexual.


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       The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999,
       which amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to protect transgender
       people against discrimination in employment and vocational training

       The Civil Partnership Act 2004

6g.4 Relevant County Council Policies

       Diversity and Equality in Employment
       Dignity at Work Policy (Harassment policy)
       Dignity at Work Guidelines




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7.     Implementing this policy
The County Council recognises that leadership, ownership and
commitment by elected members and staff, with adequate
resources allocated, are essential for this policy to be effective.

We will implement this policy by following the processes set out in the Equality
Standard for Local Government. This process will lead to specific actions to
address inequality and promote equality.

7.1    The Equality Standard for Local Government
7.1.1 The Council has adopted the Equality Standard for Local Government,
      which is designed to integrate equality and diversity aims into policy-
      making, service delivery and employment. The standard enables us to
      develop this policy based on evidence of the needs of the people it
      covers, the impact of our existing activities on those people, and the
      outcome of our actions to tackle unfair discrimination and promote
      equality. Further, by working through the standard, the Council will
      also address its obligations under equality law.

7.1.2 We will implement the standard to ensure that our policies and services
      are appropriate and accessible to all the community regardless of age,
      disability, gender, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation and
      our employment practices are non-discriminatory. The Equality
      Standard contains five levels of achievement:

                Level 1: Commitment to a Comprehensive Equality Policy

                Level 2: Impact and Needs/Requirements Assessment and
                 Consultation, to identify equality issues relevant to the County
                 Council

                Level 3: Setting Equality Objectives and Targets, using
                 information identified at Level 2 to set objectives, actions and
                 targets, and related performance indicators, to maximise the
                 positive impact of our activities and to minimise or remove the
                 negative impact.

                Level 4: Establish and Maintain Information Systems and
                 Monitoring against Targets, so we know when we have
                 reached the objectives and targets set at Level 3.

                Level 5: Achieving and Reviewing Outcomes, so that we know
                 the Council’s achievements and what we still have to do. At
                 this level, we may need to change the objectives, targets and
                 performance indicators set at Level 3.




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7.1.3 In addition to these five stages, four essential element of adopting the
      Equality Standard are:
      a) Consultation as a central feature of all stages
      b) Self-assessment, a way in which the Council can assess its
          progress on the standard, and address any issues that impede such
          progress.
      c) Audit, whereby each directorate will document evidence for their
          achievements against levels of the standard.
      d) Scrutiny, whether this is by councillors, communities or national
          monitoring and inspection bodies.


7.1.4 To set out how we will implement this policy, we will develop a
      Corporate Equality Plan that translates the commitments and
      intentions in this policy into objectives, actions and targets. This plan
      will outline how the County Council intends to integrate all our equality
      work into our
               Policy-making
               Service delivery and
               Employment practices.


7.2    Responsibility for implementation
7.2.1 The implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the following:

       The Executive: To set a constructive framework for equality within the
       County Council, ensure performance targets are met, and promote
       equalities.

       All Councillors: – all councillors have a role in representing their
       constituents, including those unfairly discriminated against or who
       receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of their gender, race,
       disability, sexuality, age or religious belief. All councillors have a key
       role in promoting equalities in the County Council and in their role as
       community leaders.

       Those councillors not on the Executive have a specific role in
       scrutinising the County Council’s policies and strategies to make
       Northumberland a fairer place to live, work and visit.

       Chief Executive and Management Board: For ensuring this policy is
       implemented, that equalities is integrated into all aspects of directorate
       work, and that and performance is monitored within their directorates.

       Director of Personnel and Administration: For ensuring that
       employment policies and good practice are implemented and
       monitored.



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       Managers: All managers are expected to take positive measures to
       address inequality and promote equality of opportunity for all. All those
       with management duties have responsibility for implementing,
       monitoring and actively promoting this policy by:

                demonstrating commitment to equalities by promoting them
                 within their everyday roles, for themselves and for their staff.
                identifying appropriate training needs and provide training
                 opportunities
                monitoring the effectiveness of equalities policies and
                 programmes in their work areas
                ensuring that employees are fully aware of the policy, their
                 responsibilities in relation to it and to ensure that it is brought
                 to the attention of all new employees who join the County
                 Council, as part of the staff induction process.
                treating all staff fairly, with respect and to take action to help
                 staff achieve their full potential.
                making their services accessible to all and for taking an active
                 role in developing their directorate’s response to inequality.
                making customers are made aware of this policy.

       Employees: Every employee plays an integral part in making this
       policy effective and should seek to put it into practice in all aspects of
       their work by:
               taking active steps to challenge discrimination and
                disadvantage
               reporting instances of unfair discrimination (including
                harassment) to a relevant manager so that appropriate action
                can be taken to remedy the situation.
               supporting managers in the development and implementation
                of equalities
               undertaking appropriate training and personal development on
                equalities to meet their duties.

Clients and contractors will:

Comply with this policy in all dealings with and/or on behalf of the County
Council and the diverse communities of Northumberland.


Equalities Working Group;
In Spring 2002, the County Council established a corporate Equalities
Working Group, to progress work on equalities across the Council. It has
representation from every directorate. The group’s remit is to develop, co-
ordinate, support and monitor the integration of equality & diversity work into
the County Council’s policy making, service delivery and employment. This
includes the development of this Equality and Diversity Policy, the Corporate
Equality Plan, and making progress on the Equality Standard for Local
Government.


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8.     Monitoring and Review
8.1    As stated above, fulfilling our equality commitments to our
       communities, customers, employees and potential employees will not
       happen just by publishing a policy.

8.2    In addition to setting out how we will implement this policy, we also
       need to state how we will monitor our progress towards implementing it
       and how we will review what we have done so we can see the effect of
       this policy and decide what we will next do.

8.3    The implementation of this policy and the impact of action arising from
       it, will be monitored and reported to councillors and the public. The
       measures we will use to monitor our progress in the implementation of
       this policy will include:

                Best Value Performance Indicators and Audit Commission
                 targets
                Local performance indicators that we will develop so we know
                 if we have reached our targets.
                The results of consultation with communities on our activities
                 covered by this policy.


8.4    Directorate action plans will be monitored by management teams within
       the normal business plan monitoring process and reported to the
       Equalities Working Group. This monitoring of progress will lead to
       revising targets where necessary.

This policy will be kept under review by the Equalities Working Group.


9.     How can I find out more?
For further information about this policy and to find out more about the County
Council’s work on equality and diversity, please contact

Bob Baker, Policy Advisor, Executive Support, Chief Executive’s Directorate,
Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland
NE61 2EF

       Telephone: 01670 533184
       Fax:         01670 533072
       Email: RBaker@northumberland.gov.uk




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