This Equal Opportunities Policy template is a statement of an employer's policy, including how it will be implemented, applied and reviewed. For use in the UK.
This is a useful document to have as it states from the outset an employer's commitment to equal opportunities. As well as making a clear equal opporutnities policy statement to all employees about the company's expectations with regard to equal opportunities it also acts as a reference point in the event of any subsequent disputes.
This policy and all the employment documents on the website are compliant with the Equality Act 2010.
It makes good business sense to treat workers fairly and considerately. It is unlawful to treat someone less favourably or discriminate directly or indirectly against someone in recruitment or employment. Organisations should ensure they have an equal opportunities policy in place designed to prevent discrimination both to stay within the law and to attract the best employees.
The Equality Act 2010 provides a structure to prevent discrimination and promote equality, fairness and uniformity in employment. All employees should be afforded equal opportunities within employment, and entry into employment and progression within employment should be determined only by personal merit and the application of criteria which are related to the duties of each particular position. In all cases, ability to perform the job should be the primary consideration.
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act came into force in October 2010 and brought together all existing anti-discrimination legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995). It identifies nine "protected characteristics" previously protected under separate equality legislation - age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity - but extends some protections to characteristics that were not previously covered, and also strengthens particular aspects of equality law.
The Act is a mixture of rights and responsibilities that have:
- Stayed the same - for example, direct discrimination still occurs when "someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic";
- Changed - for example, employees will now be able to complain of harassment even if it is not directed at them, if they can demonstrate that it creates an offensive environment for them;
- Been extended - for example, associative discrimination (direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic) will cover age, disability, gender reassignment and sex as well as race, religion and belief and sexual orientation;
- Been introduced for the first time - for example, the concept of discrimination arising from disability, which occurs if a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability.
Does the Equality Act apply to me?
If you are recruiting someone to work for you, equality law applies to you. Equality law applies:
- whatever the size of your organisation;
- whatever sector you work in;
- whether you are recruiting for the first time or not;
- whether or not you use any formal processes like application forms, shortlisting or interviewing.
When advertising a job vacancy, the advertisement should be widely publicised so as to encourage applications from all suitably qualified and experienced people. In order to attract applications from all sections of the community, your business should endeavour to ensure that advertisements are not restricted to areas or publications which would exclude or disproportionately reduce applications from a particular gender, religion, age group or racial group and should avoid prescribing requirements as to marital status or age. If you advertise in a way that won’t reach people with a particular protected characteristic, this might in some situations lead to indirect discrimination, unless you can objectively justify your approach.
Shortlisting is when you decide who to meet or interview to discuss their job application. If you decide to have a meeting or interview with one or more job applicants, then you must not unlawfully discriminate against a job applicant when you decide who to meet or interview.
Even if you are using positive action measures during the recruitment process, you must not shortlist applicants who do not meet the standard you have set for deciding who to shortlist just because they have a particular protected characteristic if there are better qualified applicants without that protected characteristic.
If you decide to interview job applicants or to give them a test then you must not unlawfully discriminate against a job applicant in the way you carry out the interview or test. The Equality Act introduced a ban on questions about a prospective employee's health at first interview. Under the Act health-related questions can only be asked to help the employer:
- decide whether any reasonable adjustments have to be made for the interviewee to the selection process;
- decide whether an interviewee can carry out a function that is essential ("intrinsic") to the job;
- monitor diversity among people making applications for jobs;
- take positive action to assist disabled people;
- be assured that an interviewee has the disability where the job genuinely requires the jobholder to have a disability.
Employers will be breaking the law unless they can prove their questions are designed to monitor diversity or to check whether the interviewee can carry out an essential task.
In order to monitor the effectiveness of your equal opportunities policy and how well your business meets its legal requirements, all applicants should be sent a monitoring form with their application.
Giving job applicants a monitoring form will help you to see who has applied for the job and who has been selected, in terms of their protected characteristics. It will also highlight any groups who are not applying or not getting further on in the recruitment.
You are not required by law to use a monitoring form but if you do use one and this tells you about a person's protected characteristics, then you must not use this information to discriminate against them. You must not base decisions about who to take further into the application process on the information people give on the monitoring form.
A business should welcome diversity amongst its employees. Recruiting from a wider range of people, in terms of their protected characteristics, can help your organisation to understand its customers, clients or service users better.
This employment policy document is suitable for use in England, Wales and Scotland and covers a company's commitment to equal opportunities in the following areas:
- grievance procedures.