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Gosport Borough Council



Equal Opportunities Policy - Employment

The Council is committed to equality of opportunity for all and to removing barriers to equal opportunity. The Council fully recognises and accepts its responsibility to ensure that there is no discrimination on the grounds of a person's gender, marital status, race, religion, colour, age, disability or sexual orientation.
All individuals will be treated solely on their merits as employees or applicants for employment.
All areas of employment are covered by this policy, ie advertising, recruitment and selection, terms on which employment is offered, job allocation, promotion, training, discipline, and all aspects of day to day employment. Harassment of any employee will not be permitted.
Each Manager and Supervisor has responsibility for applying this policy, and it is the responsibility of every employee to respect and act in accordance with it.
It is recognised that the co-operation and support of all staff is essential to the successful implementation of this policy. Consequently, consultation with the recognised Trade Unions has been conducted and will continue should any revisions prove necessary in the future.
Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when a person treats another less favourably than he or she treats, or would treat, someone else, by reason of that person's gender, marital status, race, religion, colour, age, disability or sexual orientation.
Indirect discrimination occurs where a requirement or condition is imposed equally to all, which cannot be justified as necessary for the job, where a considerably smaller proportion of people from one group can comply with the requirement.
There are various Acts covering discrimination, ie the Sex Discrimination Acts 1975 and 1986, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Race Relations Act 1976, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which make it UNLAWFUL to discriminate on the grounds of gender, marital status, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, or disability. Indirect discrimination on grounds of gender/marital status does not have to have been intentional to lead to an award of compensation.
For example it is unlawful not to interview or appoint a woman solely because of her gender, to sexually or racially harass a woman or man at work, to automatically refuse to consider applicants from a particular racial group or with a disability.
Victimisation is also unlawful, and occurs when a person suffers detriment as a result of pursuing equality issues, relating to gender, marital status, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin or disability. The Council will not tolerate victimisation on any grounds.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 provides that (with some exceptions) convictions are "spent" after a specified period of time, the time being dependent on the nature of the sentence imposed. "Spent" convictions need not be disclosed by applicants for employment, and must not be taken into account in employment decisions. (The (Exceptions) Order of 1975 and (Exceptions) (Amendment) Order of 1986 provides for certain categories of employment where disclosure of "spent" convictions is required.)
Harassment takes many forms and may be directed at an individual or group of individuals. It is not the intention of the perpetrator but the deed itself and the impact on the recipient which determine what constitutes harassment.
Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex, affecting the dignity of women and men at work. It can include unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct.
Harassment can also take place on other grounds, eg race, sexual orientation, religious or political convictions, disabilities, age. It can range from violence and bullying to ignoring someone, and can include physical contact, jokes, offensive language, gossip, display of posters, obscene gestures, non co-operation at work, coercion, pestering, spying.
Extreme forms of harassment, such as assault, constitute offences under criminal law. Other forms of harassment can contravene the Sex Discrimination, Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts.
If you consider that discrimination has occurred, or that you have been victimised, it is important that prompt action is taken. If you do not want to speak to the person you feel has discriminated against you or victimised you, you should approach either - your Supervisor, your Manager, the Personnel Officer, or your Trade Union representative, who will take the matter up on your behalf. Confidentiality will be respected, only such persons as necessary having details of the matter, and you will be kept informed of action taken.
In the case of harassment or bullying, it is recognised that these can be sensitive matters, and strict confidentiality is essential. Only the minimum number of persons necessary should have details of such matters. The primary aim is to ensure that the harassment stops. It is therefore important to make it clear as soon as possible to the harasser that the behaviour is unwelcome and must stop immediately. If you do not feel that you can do this, you should approach your Supervisor,. your Manager, the Personnel Officer or your Trade Union representative, who may make this approach on your behalf.
In either case, if the matter is resolved at this stage, a confidential note of the incident and the action taken should be made and retained in confidence by the Personnel Officer.
If the matter remains unresolved due to non-acceptance of the allegation made or because the behaviour continues, then the following procedure should be adopted.
You, either in person or through a third party as above should request an interview with the Business Unit Manager at which you may be accompanied by a representative of your choice.
A separate interview should be arranged by the Business Unit Manager with the person against whom the allegations are made, who may be accompanied by a representative of his/her choice.
The Business Unit Manager will be responsible for carrying out a thorough investigation as quickly as possible, as a result of which a decision may be made that either:
  • the allegation(s) is/are unfounded
  • the matter has been satisfactorily resolved and no further action is necessary
  • the disciplinary procedure should be invoked and a formal meeting arranged.
If you remain dissatisfied with the decision, you may raise the matter under the Council's Grievance Procedure.
If the allegation refers to the Business Unit Manager in question, the matter should be referred to the Chief Executive or a Director. A matter involving the Chief Executive should be referred to the Corporate Services Manager.
If the matter involves an Elected Member, the Chief Executive should be consulted and the matter referred to the Leader of the relevant group.
If the alleged harasser is an employee of another Unit, the relevant Business Unit Manager should be informed, and should take the action described above.
The Corporate Services Manager has overall responsibility for co-ordination of the policy, advice and review. Directors and Business Unit Managers have responsibility for ensuring its adoption and implementation in their Units.
Procedures and documentation will be kept under constant review, with any changes being subject to full consultation before adoption.
Training will be provided for all staff to ensure that there is awareness of obligations.
The process of Recruitment and Selection as well as subsequent Retention will be monitored and reviewed to ensure compliance with this policy. This includes the drafting of job descriptions and person specifications, application forms, the wording and placing of advertisements, short-listing, interviewing and other selection arrangements, staff development scheme, terms and conditions of employment, training and development opportunities, promotion, redundancy provisions, discipline, and all aspects of employment.
Wherever possible, job share and flexible working patterns will be offered.
If you would like further information about this policy or about equal opportunities generally, please contact the Personnel Officer