Equalities Policy

LEGAL POSITION
It is unlawful to discriminate against an individual on the following grounds:

• age
• disability
• gender reassignment
• marriage and civil partnership
• pregnancy and maternity
• race
• religion or belief
• sex
• sexual orientation

Under the Equality Act 2010 these are known as “protected characteristics”.

PURPOSE
The purpose of this policy is to provide equal opportunities to all employees, irrespective of their characteristics (unless there are genuine occupational qualifications or objectively justified reasons for a different approach to be taken). The Town Council opposes all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination whether it be direct or indirect discrimination, victimization or harassment on the grounds of any of the protected characteristics defined in the Equality Act 2010.

SCOPE
All employees whether full-time, part-time, fixed term contract, agency workers or temporary staff, will be treated fairly and equally. Selection for employment, promotion, training, remuneration or any other benefit will be on the basis of aptitude and ability. All employees will be helped and encouraged to develop their full potential and the talents and resources of the workforce will be fully utilised to maximise the efficiency of the council.

OUR COMMITMENT
Every employee is entitled to a working environment that promotes dignity and respect to all. No form of intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated.

The commitment to equal opportunities in the workplace is good management practice and makes sound business sense as it seeks to utilise the talents available from the local community, representing Society as a whole.

Breaches of our equal opportunities policy will be regarded as serious misconduct and could lead to disciplinary proceedings. Employees are entitled to complain about discrimination or harassment or victimization through the council’s Grievance procedure – see below.

This policy is fully supported by all councillors and adopts the model contract as devised by the employee professional body in the local government sector (the Society of Local Council Clerks).

The policy will be monitored and reviewed bi-annually. Other Personnel policies will be reviewed against the values stated in this main Equal Opportunities policy to ensure that the council strives to remain an Equal Opportunities employer.

Uses of Policy – Induction of staff and Members, decisions relating to Recruitment and Selection, Training and Development, Promotion, Remuneration, Retirement, cross-referenced to Grievance, disciplinary and Dignity at Work Policies.

Grievance Procedures – The Council treats all allegations of harassment of whatever nature with due consideration. Initially the complainant may discuss the matter confidentially with the Chairman of the Council. If the complainant wishes to pursue the matter, the alleged perpetrator will be notified of the complaint and the matter will be investigated in an objective and independent manner. If applicable, witnesses may be interviewed and a hearing will be held by the Council at which the employee complaining of the harassment and the alleged perpetrator will have the chance to give their side of the story. Each employee may have a colleague attend the hearing. The evidence given on both sides will be weighed and the Council will decide whether, and if so what, action is to follow. The action taken may include oral or written warnings, dismissal, counselling or striking out the allegation. The harasser may appeal against the decision of the Council in accordance with the Council’s procedure for appeals.

The Council will act impartially on the basis of the facts and endeavour to deal with such matters speedily and with sensitivity to both parties. Where harassment has occurred but the harasser remains employed, the Council will continue to monitor his or her conduct. A complainant who has made an unfounded complaint against an alleged harasser will, however, be subject to disciplinary action.