Employment equality (religion or belief) regulations 2003 by dfhercbml

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									Employment Equality
 (Religion or Belief)
  Regulations 2003




           NASUWT
      Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003

                               NASUWT Advice

What are the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003?
The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 outlaw
discrimination in employment and vocational training on the grounds of religion or
belief.

Why are the Regulations being introduced?
The Regulations introduce rights in new areas to employees to protect them from
prejudice, discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Despite some
limitations, the Religion or Belief Regulations represent a major step towards
eliminating the discrimination and harassment faced by significant numbers of
teachers. NASUWT welcomes the Regulations and is committed to ensuring that
they are implemented in schools and colleges.

There is evidence to show that the benefits for schools and colleges will be
considerable. NASUWT believes that tackling discrimination will help to attract,
motivate and retain staff. It will also enable schools and colleges to develop a
diverse workforce which will benefit teaching and learning.

What do the Regulations outlaw?
● Direct discrimination – treating people less favourably than others on grounds
  of their religion or belief.
● Indirect discrimination – applying a provision, criterion or practice which
  disadvantages people of a particular religion or belief which is not justified as
  a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
● Harassment – unwanted conduct that violates people’s dignity or creates an
  intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
● Victimisation – treating people less favourably because of something they
  have done under, or in connection with, the Regulations, e.g. made a formal
  complaint of discrimination or given evidence in a tribunal case.

So the new laws will mean that schools and colleges:

●   cannot refuse access to training, or to promotion, on the basis of religion or
    belief;
●   must act to protect employees against bullying or harassment suffered on
    grounds of religion or belief. The “perception” of the person suffering the
    harassment is crucial;
●   cannot deny workers benefits (facilities and services) that they offer to other
    employees – for example, insurance schemes, travel concessions, social
    events – on the basis of religion or belief;
●   cannot give an unfair reference when someone leaves because of their
    religion or belief.
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This means that employers are required to protect employees against bullying or
harassment suffered in the workplace (i.e. violating an individual’s dignity or
‘creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’
for an individual) because of their religion or belief.

The Regulations also outlaw discrimination by trade associations (including trade
unions), employment agencies, providers of vocational training, and institutions of
further and higher education.

Where do they apply?
The Regulations apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

When do they come into force?
The Religion or Belief Regulations come into force on 2 December 2003.

What do the Regulations cover?
The Religion or Belief Regulations apply to discrimination and harassment on
grounds of religion, religious belief or a similar philosophical belief. They cover
discrimination and harassment on the grounds of perceived as well as actual
religion or belief (i.e. assuming – correctly or incorrectly – that someone has a
particular religion or belief). The Regulations also cover association, i.e. being
discriminated against on grounds of the religion or belief of those with whom you
associate (for example, friends and/or family).

The Regulations apply to recruitment, terms and conditions, pay, promotion,
transfers and dismissals.

What isn’t covered?
The Religion or Belief Regulations do not protect against discrimination and
harassment on grounds of belief not akin to a religion or similar philosophical belief
(e.g. being a fanatical supporter of a particular football club or being a supporter
of a particular political party because of strongly held political views).

They also mean that an employer cannot refuse to employ someone, nor decide
to dismiss someone, because of their religious belief unless there is an “exception
for genuine occupational requirement”.

Finally, the Regulations do not cover less favourable treatment in the provision of
goods and services.




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Are there circumstances where an employer may discriminate on grounds of
religion or belief?
A school/college may be exempt from provisions within the Regulations only in
exceptional circumstances. Under the Regulations an employer may only
discriminate on grounds of religion or belief:

●   if the employer has an ethos based on religion or belief and being of a
    particular religion or belief is required in that particular case;
●   where there is a genuine occupational requirement requiring the employee to
    be of a particular religion or belief;
●   where the employer is not satisfied that the person meets the religion or belief
    requirement;
●   it is proportionate to apply that requirement in the particular case.

The Religion or Belief Regulations also make it legal for employers and trade
associations (such as trade unions) to take steps to encourage persons of a
particular religion or belief to apply for particular work or training if this is to
compensate for disadvantages otherwise suffered by persons of that religion or
belief.

What aspects of employment do the Regulations cover?
The Regulations apply throughout the employment relationship – the recruitment
process, in the workplace, on dismissal and, in certain circumstances, after the
employment has finished.

What aspects of vocational training do the Regulations cover?
The Regulations apply throughout the vocational training relationship – during the
application process, in the training environment and, in certain circumstances,
after the vocational training has finished. Schools and colleges therefore have a
responsibility to ensure that their employees are treated with dignity and in
accordance with these Regulations while they are involved in training activity on
or off the premises.

Who do the Regulations cover?
The Regulations protect the rights of all employees, including teachers and other
education staff. They apply to all schools and colleges in both public and private
sectors. The Regulations apply to supply/employment agencies, providers of
vocational training and institutions of further and higher education.

Whilst members of school and college governing bodies are not individually
protected by these Regulations, they are responsible for ensuring that the school
or college is compliant with the law. Governing bodies should be made aware of
their legal responsibilities.



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Under the Regulations, an employer may be liable for discriminatory actions taken
by anyone acting on their behalf, whether or not it was done with their knowledge,
unless the employer can show that they had tried to prevent such actions.

How do these Regulations fit with other equality legislation?
There is already existing legislation on other areas of equality:

●   The   Equal Pay Act 1970.
●   The   Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
●   The   Race Relations Act 1976.
●   The   Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
●   The   Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

The Government’s approach has been to ensure that requirements are consistent
across equality legislation where practicable. That will make it easier for everyone
to understand and use the law. For example:

●   the same definition of indirect discrimination is used in the Sexual
    Orientation Regulations;
●   the same burden of proof across the strands – once an employment tribunal
    or court is satisfied from the facts that there is a case to answer, the onus is
    on the employer to show that the difference in treatment was justified;
●   the same procedure for making complaints and remedies. Where an
    employee thinks that they have been discriminated against under the new
    Regulations, they can bring a case to an employment tribunal. (In cases
    involving institutes of further and higher education proceedings must be
    brought in the county or sheriff court.)

When can I make a complaint or claim discrimination?
The new rights come into force on 2 December 2003. A complaint about
discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the grounds of religion or belief may
be made from that date.

In most cases, a complaint must be made to an employment tribunal, though in
cases involving institutes of further and higher education proceedings must be
brought in the county or sheriff court. Once an alleged act of discrimination has
taken place, the time limit for bringing a claim in the employment tribunal is three
months; in the county or sheriff court it is six months. Tribunals and courts will only
extend those time limits in genuinely exceptional cases.



        Members who experience discrimination or harassment
               should contact NASUWT immediately.

                                          6
National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers
    Hillscourt Education Centre, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8RS

                  T: 0121 453 6150 F: 0121 457 6208/9
       E: nasuwt@mail.nasuwt.org.uk W: www.teachersunion.org.uk

                                          03/11023 England, Wales and Scotland

								
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