EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY 1. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this Policy is to affirm the Trust's commitment to the continued development of equal opportunity in employment. . This Policy will be implemented in accordance with prevailing legislation and the Trust also endorses Codes of Practice which provide equality of opportunity in employment. 2. STATEMENT OF INTENT The aim of this policy is to ensure that no present or future employee or job applicant is discriminated against, either directly or indirectly, on the grounds of sex, marital status, disability, religion, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, age (below 65 years), sexual orientation or is disadvantaged by any conditions or requirements which cannot be shown to be justified. The Trust recognises that as an employer it has a legal responsibility to promote and practice equality of opportunity and it will ensure that this Policy is made widely known throughout the Trust and that employees understand and follow its equal opportunities policy. The Trust also recognises the benefits of equality of opportunity in helping to create and maintain an efficient and effective workforce. In this regard, the policy has two main objectives: In conjunction with other Trust Policy and procedure to provide guidance on matters of law and practice relating to equal opportunities in employment in order to ensure that the Trust, its Managers and staff do not act unlawfully. To promote equality of opportunity and good practices and thereby maximise the talents of all staff and their contribution to the Trust. 3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES Unlawful discrimination is totally unacceptable to the Trust and will not be tolerated. Direct and intentional discrimination will normally be regarded as gross misconduct. Indirect and inadvertent discrimination may also result in disciplinary action. Harassment or victimisation is regarded by the Trust as totally unacceptable behaviour. Offenders will be subject to serious disciplinary action including dismissal. Wherever possible the Trust will respond positively to applications for job sharing, part time work and career breaks. This Policy will be supported by training for Managers. All decisions about the employment and training of people should be objective, based on merit and support business goals. 4. RESPONSIBILITIES Responsibility for this policy will rest with the following: 4.1 The Trust Board: To ensure that the Trust's Policy is implemented To ensure that complaints are dealt with in a consistent manner and in accordance with the Trust's appropriate procedures. To take appropriate positive action to develop and encourage equality of opportunity in practice. To ensure that appropriate positive action steps are taken to monitor the information that is required on all aspects of equal opportunities. The Head of Human Resources - Responsibility for the development and monitoring of this policy rests with the Head of Human Resources although implementation lies with the appropriate Heads of Service/Department. 4.2 Individual Managers It is the responsibility of all Managers to ensure that they are consistent and nondiscriminatory in their application of personnel policies and practices and they have a duty to: Co-operate with all measures introduced by the Trust to ensure equality of opportunity. Ensure the policy is known to all staff in their particular work areas. Not victimise or attempt to victimise individuals on the grounds that they have made complaints or provided infonrnation on discrimination. Act as a link between the Trust and members of staff on maternity leave, career breaks or other special leave. This may, for example, -including making arrangements for participation in departmental training/briefing sessions, forwarding of newsletters, team briefs or other forms of internal communication of interest and relevance. 4.3 Individual Employees All employees of the Trust have an obligation to co-operate with the policies, procedures and practices designed to promote equality of opportunity in employment and nondiscrimination. In particular, individuals have a duty to: Co-operate with all measures introduced by the Trust to ensure equality of opportunity. Not abuse, intimidate, victimise or harass other employees or the public but instead demonstrate standards of behaviour which respect the dignity and rights of all individuals at work. Draw the attention of management to suspected incidents of disciplinary acts and practices. 4.4 Contractors: Are required to observe this policy in their behaviour to the public and employees. 5. DEFINITIONS Direct discrimination in law, occurs when an employer treats a person less favourably on grounds of sex, marital status, disability, religion, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin. The Trust's Policy also specifically covers other grounds on which unjustifiable discrimination is unacceptable and these are religion, sexual orientation and age (although it must be noted that it is the Policy of the Trust that age 65 is the compulsory retirement age). Eg: specifying different recruitment criteria for men and women which are not justified; Excluding persons of either sex or from ethnic minorities. Indirect discrimination arises when the same conditions or requirement is applied but: The ability of one group to comply is proportionately smaller than the other(s). It is not justified. It is to the detriment of the complainant because s(he) cannot comply. Eg: A requirement for a higher level of qualification than is necessary for the safe and effective performance of the job. Eg: A requirement for a higher language or written communication ability than is necessary for the safe and effective performance of the job. In this policy 'victimisation' means when a person is treated less favourably than others because that person has made a complaint or allegation of discrimination or has acted as a witness or informant in connection with proceedings under the Acts, or has been involved in any other way in its enforcement, or intends to do any of these things. KEY ASPECTS OF THE POLICY 6. ADVERTISING The Trust shall not discriminate directly or indirectly when advertising vacancies 6y including any requirements or conditions which are not justified. In order to achieve this, each vacancy will have a person specification and job description, before a post is advertised. Advertisements shall be aimed at as wide a group of suitably qualified and experienced people as possible and practicable whilst being mindful of factors such as cost effectiveness of media selection etc. Care will be taken to avoid indirect discrimination in recruitment through the recommendations of existing employees i.e. "word of mouth recruitment". All appropriate posts will be advertised as open to job sharers. All jobs will be considered capable of being job shared unless this can be demonstrated otherwise to the Head of Human Resources. 7. RECRUITMENT & SELECTION PROCESS - The aim is to ensure recruitment of the highest quality of staff. Selection decisions should be based solely on the relevant merits, abilities and, where appropriate, qualifications of candidates. The Trust will require, therefore, that those making selection decisions do not discriminate either directly or indirectly. Applicants shall be given clear, accurate information about jobs in advertisements, job descriptions, person specifications and interviews necessary to enable them to gauge their potential suitability for a vacancy. Recruitment literature shall not imply that there is a preference for one group of applicants lie. unless this can be shown to be justified in terms of the person specification). Person specifications shall include only requirements that are essential and justifiable for the safe and effective performance of the job. Application forms shall be as clear as possible for ease of completion and shall not be used as a test of literacy unless this can be justified in terms of the person specification. In accordance with Section 48 of the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) and Section 38 of the Race Relations Act (1976) the Trust may encourage persons of a particular racial group or sex to apply for vacancies where, during the previous 12 months, the proportion of persons of that group leg by occupation/department/ workplace etc) is small in comparison with that group either employed by the Trust as a whole or among the population of the area from which the Trust normally recruits to that occupation/ department/workplace etc. After encouraging applications by positive action each candidate must be considered or their merits and suitability for the post and their membership of an under-represented group shall not influence the appointment decision. In accordance with the Trust's Policy on the Employment of Disabled People all disabled applicants who satisfy the minimum requirements of the person specification shall be guaranteed an interview for the particular vacancy. All interviews shall be conducted in a manner which accords with the Trust's Code of Practice on the Conduct of Interviews. All members of the shortlisting interview panel have a responsibility to comply with the documentation requirements set out in the Trust's Code of Practice on the Conduct of Interviews to ensure appropriate documentation/recording of recruitment decisions and enable monitoring to be carried out. Shortlisting shall be based solely on information contained in the candidates application using the criteria laid down in the person specification. Shortlisting should not normally be done by just one person. Interview questions must be related to the requirements and circumstances of the job and must not be of a discriminatory nature. It is the policy of the Trust that at least one member of the interview panel has attended training on equal opportunities and recruitment and selection. All jobs should be made open to all applicants except in the case of a job covered by a Genuine Occupational Qualification (G.O.Q.) as defined by the Sex Discrimination Act sI Race Relations Act i.e. where considerations of privacy, decency, welfare or authenticity are involved. Where a G.O.Q. may be deemed to apply, this must have the approval of the Director of Personnel prior to any action being taken. 8. TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT & FACILITIES Terms and conditions of employment and employment policies will be applied equally to all groups of staff. The introduction of positive measures such as part time working, job sharing and flexible working arrangements will be actively encouraged in pursuing this policy. The Trust will not discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origin, disability, age or sexual orientation in the provision of access to general staff facilities or benefits. 9. DISABILITY IN EMPLOYMENT The Trust recognises that as an employer we have specific obligations towards our employees and the community at large to ensure people with disabilities are afforded equal opportunities. To compliment this policy, a separate Trust policy has been developed relating to the Employment of People with Disabilities. 10. TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT It is the Policy of the Trust that it will not directly or indirectly discriminate in the provision of training. All new employees will be given an understanding of the organisation by means of induction training. All staff shall be encouraged to discuss their training and personal development needs with their Manager as part of the framework of performance appraisal. All employees will be encouraged to develop their potential and update their skills in order to enhance career development. Opportunities for training and development will be afforded to all staff based on assessed need and irrespective of sex, marital status, disability, religion, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation. Training for Managers on Equal Opportunities and Recruitment and Selection shall be provided to enable them to exercise their responsibilities under legislation, Trust policy and good practice. 11. POSITIVE ACTION The Trust may wish to develop positive action programmes. The Trust will not, however, positively discriminate as such discrimination is illegal (except, under certain circumstances, on disability grounds). Positive actions and positive discrimination can be identified as follows: 11.1Positive discrimination: occurs when action is taken which treats one group/individual differently than another. This practice is illegal (excepting certain elements of Disability legislation) and in such practices as recruitment individuals should be appointed only against criteria identified through the person specification. 11.2 Positive actions: may be taken by the Trust which enable applicants and employees to have equality of opportunity by including measures which seek to ensure discrimination at work does not occur and to develop specific positive action programmes to ensure equality of access to employment opportunities within the Trust. 12. MONITORING It is the Trust's policy to monitor the Equal Opportunity aspects of implementation of this policy in respect of employment. Policies, procedures and practices will be subject to regular review on the basis of changing legislation, developing good practice and monitoring data. Records will be maintained on the gender, marital status, disability and ethnic origin of all job applicants and employees. This information will be held by the Human Resources Department and will be treated in the strictest confidence. Data will be reported in a statistical form only and will preserve the anonymity of individuals. The Director of Personnel will be the person designated with the responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of this policy. 13. ADHERENCE TO THE POLICY The Equal Opportunities Policy and the procedures and practices complimenting it must be strictly adhered to by all staff. Any breach may lead to the Disciplinary Procedure being invoked. Complaints may be raised through the Grievance Procedure as appropriate. It is recognised, however, that employees may find it difficult under certain circumstances to approach their immediate managers in cases involving discrimination or harassment. The first point of contact in such instances may therefore be the Director of Personnel.