Equal Opportunities Policy

Joanna North Associates Ltd – Adoption Support Agency

Updated June 2020

Within Joanna North Associates we recognise the importance of valuing diversity within the workplace and within the wider community.  As an organisation with responsibility for significant interaction with vulnerable young people and adults, we take on board the responsibility for helping staff members to adhere to a bench-mark of equality within the organisation.  We believe we have an obligation to model appropriate behaviour within our organisation so that client’s using our service can be treated with respect, dignity and equality.  We detail below the expectations from our staff and recruitment so that within our organisation users will be met by people who are equality minded. 

This means that we train our staff particularly to be aware of the importance of cultural differences as impacting on the identity of our clients.  Staff will receive instruction in this area (starting with the Associates Agreement) so that they can provide an environment in which the person’s unique qualities can be nurtured.  Equally our staff will be valued for their own racial, cultural, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, religious and disability differences.  We will regularly consider the impact of difference in culture and ethnicity and other diverse factors when we think about the needs of our clients and our team. 

We are aware that an equal playing field has not necessarily been developed by the development of Equality Legislation over the last thirty years and we seek to remedy some of the inequalities that still exist in the workplace by paying attention to social groups who may still be excluded or not given the same opportunity as the majority groupings.  This particularly includes attention to:

Race Relations Act 1976 (amended in 2000)

Following the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry, this piece of legislation requires that we pay particular attention to institutionalised behaviours that may cause harm or offence to members of our staff or make us blind
to the needs of our clients.  Staff will be trained in the details of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000.

We believe that institutionalised behaviours are particularly damaging and we train all of our staff to be aware of their behaviour and attitude towards others, especially in regard to those in vulnerable or minority groups.  We aim to have this sensitivity to others as a bench-mark of our working environment and that this should benefit our clients.

We are aware that the Race Relations Amendment Act places a duty on Public Authorities to monitor the practices of those who provide services to that authority.  In this regard we are fully open to the monitoring function of the Local Authority to our practices in Racial Equality and potential institutionalised inequalities.

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Despite this thirty-year old piece of legislation, we are aware that underlying sex discrimination is still prevalent within our society and workplace.  Within our organisation we will allocate a champion for equality and we will particularly seek to create an environment in which sexism can be challenged but moreover discussed and debated openly and within a constructive framework.  Whilst we seek equality in all aspects
of our work we are aware that there will be times when we all have the possibility of falling into entrenched patterns of behaviour.

These patterns may be equally offensive to both men and women.  We therefore seek to be thoughtful about these issues as part of our practice and particularly with regard to our clients.  We will consider work patterns and family arrangements within this framework, bearing in mind that those with caring responsibilities may be disadvantaged by rigid work patterns.  We are willing to think flexibly on these issues so that we do not inadvertently cause discrimination through work rotas.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

We recognise the importance of an inclusive stance for those with disabilities and seek to offer an equal footing for those involved in work with us.  Whilst some of our work may not be suitable for those with severe physical impairment (for their own safety) we would seek to provide employment in other areas of adoption support for those who wish to work in this field.  This would include administration, visiting, training, befriending and tutoring.  We have disability access to make these roles possible for those with disability who may seek a role within the company.  Our staff will be trained with regard to Equal Opportunities and
the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Equal Pay Act 1976

We are aware of inequalities in pay structure that still exist.  Within Joanna North Associates we provide
a pay structure that is in relation to experience, qualifications and company appraisal.  It is irrespective
of gender.

Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003

We train our staff fully in all areas of Sexual Orientation both for the sake of equality in the workplace and
in order to help our clients with whom we work.  Within the workplace we seek to ensure that our staff are respectful and thoughtful regardless of sexual orientation.  We especially seek to build an inclusive culture, free from harassment and persecution due to individual differences. We also recognise our responsibilities with regard to protection of employees from harassment and discrimination within the work place.

Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003

We embrace the experience of working with team members of varied cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds as we feel this enhances the level of diversity within our workgroup.  We may at times particularly seek staff whose religion may match that of the client(s) in the case.  We also encourage the practice and understanding of religious festivals and rituals as they arise within our diverse staff group.

Human Rights Act 1998

Our staff are fully cognisant of the essential features of the Human Rights Act.  This is included within our Equality and Diversity training for staff.  They are particularly mindful of the rights of all people within this Act.  We pay attention to the rights that are protected by this Act for our employees which include some of the most basic rights such as:

  • The right to freedom of expression.
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to be free from cruel inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

We also ask our staff to consider Article 12 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  We subscribe to the National Youth Advocacy Services to help keep our staff up to date with the rights of children and the Human Rights of Adults.

Commission for Racial Equality

Code of Practice for Employment Part One

The Responsibilities of Employers

Joanna North Associates will ensure that, irrespective of their Race, Ethnicity, Religion or cultural background, an Equal Opportunities policy is pursued from the point of advertising for a potential employee through to selection, treatment, short listing, training, promotion, disciplinary measures, performance appraisals and company benefits.  We also consider our practice with regard to cultural and religious needs.  With respect to all other areas of our Human Resources practice employees can expect to be treated in accordance with the guidelines set down by the Commission for Racial Equality a copy of which is available to staff within the H.R. records.

No job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment than another on racial grounds.

No applicant or employee is placed at a disadvantage by requirements or conditions which have a disproportionately adverse effect on his or her racial group and which cannot be shown to be justifiable on other than racial grounds.

Where appropriate, and where permissible under the Race Relations Act, employees of underrepresented racial groups are given training and encouragement to achieve equal opportunity within the organisation.

In order to ensure that an equal opportunity policy is fully effective, the following action by employers is recommended:

  • Allocating overall responsibility of the policy to a member of senior management.
  • Discussing and, where appropriate, agreeing with trade union or employee representatives the policy’s contents and implementation.
  • Ensuring that the policy is known to all employees and if possible, to all applicants.
  • Providing training and guidance for supervisory staff and other relevant decision makers (such as personnel and line mangers, foremen, gatekeepers and receptionists), to ensure that they understand their position in law and under company policy.
  • Examining and regularly reviewing existing procedures and criteria and changing them where they find that they are actually or potentially unlawfully discriminatory.
  • Making an initial analysis of the workforce and regularly monitoring the application of the policy with the aid of analyses of the ethnic origins of the workforce and of job applicants in accordance with the guidance in paragraphs 1.34-1.35.

Sources of recruitment

Advertisements

When advertising job vacancies, it is unlawful for employers to publish an advertisement which indicates, or could reasonably be understood as indicating, an intention to discriminate against applicants from a particular racial group. (For exceptions see the Race Relations Act.)

It is therefore recommended that:

  • Employers should not confine advertisements unjustifiably to those areas or publications which would exclude or disproportionately reduce the numbers of applicants of a particular racial group.
  • Employers should avoid prescribing requirements such as length of residence or experience in the UK and where a particular qualification is required it should be made clear that a fully comparable qualification obtained overseas is as acceptable as a UK qualification.

In order to demonstrate their commitment to equality of opportunity it is recommended that where employers send literature to applicants, this should include a statement that they are equal opportunity employers.

Employment agencies

When recruiting through employment agencies, job centres, career offices and schools, it is unlawful
for employers:

To give instructions to discriminate, for example by indicating that certain groups will or will not be preferred. (For exceptions see the Race Relations Act.)

To bring pressure on them to discriminate against members of a particular racial group. (For exceptions
see the Race Relations Act.)

In order to avoid indirect discrimination, it is recommended that employers should not confine recruitment unjustifiably to those agencies, job centres, careers offices and schools which, because of their particular source of applicants, provide only or mainly applicants of a particular racial group.

Other sources

It is unlawful to use recruitment methods which exclude or disproportionately reduce the numbers of applicants of a particular racial group and which cannot be shown to be justifiable. It is therefore recommended that employers should not recruit through the following methods:

Recruitment, solely or in the first instance, through the recommendations of existing employees where the workforce concerned is wholly or predominately white or black and the labour market is multi-racial.

Procedures by which applicants are mainly or wholly supplied through trade unions, where this means that only members of particular racial group, or a disproportionately high number of them, come forward.

Sources for promotion and training

It is unlawful for employers to restrict access to opportunities for promotion or training in such a way which is discriminatory.

It is therefore recommended that job and training vacancies and the application procedure should be made known to all eligible employees, and not in such a way as to exclude or disproportionately reduce the numbers of applicants from a particular racial group.

Selection process

It is unlawful to discriminate, not only in recruitment, promotion, transfer and training, but also in the arrangements made for recruitment and in the ways of affording access to opportunities for promotion, transfer and training.

Note: Discrimination in selection to achieve ‘racial balance’ is not allowed. The clause in the 1968 Race Relations Act which allowed such discrimination for the purpose of securing or preserving a reasonable balance of persons of different racial groups in the establishment is not included in the 1976 Race
Relations Act.

Selection criteria and tests

In order to avoid direct or indirect discrimination, it is recommended that selection criteria and tests are examined to ensure that they are related to job requirements and are not unlawfully discriminatory.
For example:

A standard of English, higher than that needed for the safe and effective performance of the job or clearly demonstrable career pattern should not be required, or a higher level of education qualification than is needed.

In particular, employers should not disqualify applicants because they are unable to complete an application form unassisted unless personal completion of the form is a valid test of the standard of English required for safe and effective performance of the job.

Overseas degrees, diplomas and other qualifications which are comparable with UK qualifications should be acceptable as equivalents, and not simply be assumed to be of an inferior quality.

Selection tests which contain irrelevant questions or exercises on matter which may be unfamiliar to racial minority applicants should not be used (for example, general knowledge questions on matters more likely to be familiar to indigenous applicants).

Selection tests should be checked to ensure that they are related to job’s requirements, i.e. an individual’s tests marking should measure ability to do or train for the job in question. 

Treatment of applicants

Shortlisting, interviewing and selection

In order to avoid direct or indirect discrimination it is recommended that:

Gate, reception and personnel staff should be instructed not to treat casual or formal applicants from particular racial groups less favourably than others. These instructions should be confirmed in writing.

In addition, staff responsible for shortlisting, interviewing and selecting candidates should be clearly informed of selection criteria, and of the need for their consistent application;

  • given guidance or training to the effects which generalised assumptions and prejudices about race can have on selection decisions;
  • made aware of the possible misunderstandings that can occur in interviews between persons of different cultural background.

Wherever possible, shortlisting and interviewing should not be done by one person alone but should at least be checked at a more senior level.

Genuine occupational qualification

Selection on racial grounds is allowed in certain jobs where being of particular racial group is a genuine occupational qualification for that job. An example is where the holder of a particular job provides persons of a racial group with personal services promoting their welfare, and those services can most effectively be provided by a person of that group.

Transfers and training

In order to avoid direct or indirect discrimination it is recommended that:

Staff responsible for selecting employees for transfer to other jobs should be instructed to apply selection criteria without unlawful discrimination.

Industry or company agreements and arrangements of custom and practice on job transfers should be examined and amended if they are found to contain requirements or conditions which appear to be discriminatory. For example, if employees of particular racial groups are concentrated in particular sections, the transfer arrangements should be examined to see if they are unjustifiably and unlawfully restrictive and amended if necessary.

Staff responsible for selecting employees for training, whether induction, promotion or skills training, should be instructed not to discriminate on racial grounds.

Selection criteria for training opportunities should be examined to ensure that they are not indirectly discriminatory.

Dismissal (including redundancy) and other detriment

It is unlawful to discriminate on racial grounds in dismissal, or other detriment to an employee.

It is therefore recommended that:

  • Staff responsible for selecting employees for dismissal, including redundancy, should be instructed not to discriminate on racial grounds.
  • Selection criteria for redundancies should be examined to ensure that they are not indirectly discriminatory.

Performance appraisals

It is unlawful to discriminate on racial grounds in appraisals of employee performance.

Staff responsible for performance appraisals should be instructed not to discriminate on racial grounds.

Assessment criteria should be examined to ensure that they are not unlawfully discriminatory.

Terms of employment, benefits, facilities and services

It is unlawful to discriminate on racial grounds in affording terms of employment and providing benefits, facilities and services for employees. It is therefore recommended that:

All staff concerned with these aspects of employment should be instructed accordingly.

The criteria governing eligibility should be examined to ensure that they are not unlawfully discriminatory.

In addition, employees may request extended leave from time to time in order to visit relations in their country of origin or who have emigrated to other countries. Many employers have polices which allow annual leave entitlement to be accumulated, or extra unpaid leave to be taken to meet these circumstances. Employers should take care to apply such policies consistently and without unlawful discrimination.

Grievance, disputes and disciplinary procedures

It is unlawful to discriminate in the operation of grievance, disputes and disciplinary procedures, for example by victimising an individual through disciplinary measures because he or she has complained about racial discrimination, or given evidence about such a complaint. Employers should not ignore or treat lightly grievances from members of particular racial groups on the assumption that they are over-sensitive about discrimination.

It is recommended that in applying disciplinary procedures consideration should be given to the possible effect on an employee’s behaviour of the following:

  • Racial abuse or other racial provocation.
  • Communication and comprehension difficulties.
  • Differences in cultural background or behaviour.

Cultural and religious needs

Where employees have particular cultural and religious needs which conflict with existing work requirements, it is recommended that employers should consider whether it is reasonably practicable to vary or adapt these requirements to enable such needs to be met. For example, it is recommended that they should not refuse employment to a turbanned Sikh because he could not comply with unjustifiable uniform requirements.

Note: S.11 of the Employment Act 1989 exempts turban wearing Sikhs from any requirements to wear safety helmets on a construction site. Where a turban wearing Sikh is injured on a construction site liability for injuries is restricted to the injuries that would have been sustained if the Sikh had been wearing a safety helmet.

S.12 of the Employment Act provides that if, despite S.11, an employer requires a turban wearing Sikh to wear other protective head gear such as a safety helmet on a construction site, the employer will not be able to argue that this is a justifiable requirement in any proceedings under the Race Relations Act to determine whether or not it constitutes indirect racial discrimination.

Other examples of such needs are:

  • Observance of prayer times and religious holidays.
  • Wearing of dress such as sarees and the trousers worn by Asian women.

Although the Act does not specifically cover religious discrimination, work requirements would generally be unlawful if they have a disproportionately adverse effect on particular racial groups and cannot be shown to be justifiable.

Note: Genuinely necessary safety requirements may not constitute unlawful discrimination.

Communications and language training for employees

Although there is no legal requirement to provide language training, difficulties in communication can endanger equal opportunity in the workforce. In addition, good communications can improve efficiency, promotion prospects, and safety and health and create a better understanding between employers, employees and unions. Where the workforce includes current employees whose English is limited it is recommended that steps are taken to ensure that communications are as effective as possible.

These should include, where reasonably practicable:

  • Provision of interpretation and translation facilities, for example in the communication of grievance and other procedures, and of terms of employment
  • Training in English language, and in communication skills
  • Training for managers and supervisors in the background and culture of racial minority groups
  • The use of alternative or additional methods of communication, where employees find it difficult to understand heath and safely requirements, for example:
    • Safety signs; translations of safety notices
    • Instructions through interpreters
    • Instruction combined with industrial language training.

Instructions and pressure to discriminate

It is unlawful to instruct or put pressure on others to discriminate on racial grounds.

An example of unlawful instruction is:

An instruction from a personnel or line manger to junior staff to restrict the number of employees from a particular racial group in any particular work

An example of pressure to discriminate is:

An attempt by a shop steward or group of workers to induce an employer not to recruit members of particular racial groups, for example by threatening industrial action

It is also unlawful to discriminate in response to such instructions or pressure.

The following recommendations are made to avoid unlawful instructions and pressure to discriminate:

Guidance should be given to all employees, and particularly those in positions of authority or influence, on the relent provisions of the law.

Decision-makers should be instructed not to give way to pressure to discriminate.

Giving instructions or bringing pressure to discriminate should be treated as a disciplinary offence.

Victimization

It is unlawful to victimize individuals who have made allegations or complaints of racial discrimination or provided information about such discrimination, for example by disciplining them or dismissing them.

It is recommended that guidance on this aspect of the law should be given to all employees and particularly to those in positions of influence or authority.

Monitoring equal opportunity

It is recommended that employers should regularly monitor the effects of selection decisions and personnel practices and procedures in order to asses whether equal opportunity is being achieved.

The information needed for effective monitoring may be obtained in a number of ways. It will best be provided by records showing the ethnic origins of existing employees and job applicants. It is recognised that the need for detailed information and the methods of collecting it will vary according to the circumstances of individual establishments. For example, in small firms or in firms in areas with little or no racial minority settlement it will often be adequate to assess the distribution of employees from personal knowledge and visual identification.

It is open to employers to adopt the method of monitoring which is best suited to their needs and circumstances, but whichever method is adopted, they should be able to show that it is effective. In order to achieve the full commitment of all concerned the chosen method should be discussed and agreed, where appropriate, with trade union or employee representatives.

Employers should ensure that information on individual’s ethnic origins is collected for the purpose of monitoring equal opportunity alone and is protected from misuse.