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EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY & EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY
1. POLICY STATEMENT
1.1 The Company is committed to promoting equality of opportunity for all staff and job applicants and to embracing diversity in its workforce. We aim to create a working environment in which all individuals are able to make best use of their skills, free from discrimination or harassment, and in which all decisions are based on merit.
1.2 The purpose of this policy is to provide diversity and equality to all staff, irrespective of their gender, race, ethnic origin, disability, age, nationality, national origin, sexuality, religion or belief, marital status or social class. We believe that commitment to equality and diversity in the workplace is good management and makes sound business sense. We believe that all staff are entitled to a working environment which promotes fairness, equality, dignity and respect to all.
1.3 We do not discriminate, nor will tolerate discrimination, against staff on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, disability or age (the protected characteristics). No form of discrimination, intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated. We oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination.
1.4 Our aim is to ensure that our workforce will be truly representative of all sections of society and where each staff member feels respected and able to give their best to the business.
1.5 The principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity also apply to the way in which our staff treat visitors, clients, customers, suppliers and former staff members.
1.6 All staff have a duty to act in accordance with this policy and treat colleagues with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate against or harass other members of staff, regardless of their status. Any staff member who is found to have breached this policy will be subject to disciplinary sanction under the Disciplinary Procedure (see further below).
1.7 We are committed to a programme of action to make this policy effective and ensuring that the policy is brought to the attention of all staff and that they remain fully aware their responsibilities towards others. We ensure that all staff have access to this policy and provide appropriate training on a regular basis.
1.8 This policy, and the measures we take to implement it and ensure continuing compliance, have been devised on the basis of the relevant legislation and guidance (as amended), including (but not limited to) the Equality Act 2010, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the ECHR Employment Statutory Code of Practice. We have also taken account of ACAS and Government issued guidance on equality and diversity in the workplace. We are fully committed to ensuring all of our legal obligations are complied with at all times and seek regular independent advice in that regard.
1.9 This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and may be amended at any time.
2. WHO IS COVERED BY THE POLICY?
This policy covers all individuals working at all levels and grades,
including senior managers, officers, directors, employees, consultants,
contractors, trainees, homeworkers, part-time and fixed-term
employees, casual workers and agency staff (collectively referred to as
staff in this policy).
3. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS POLICY?
3.1 Our board of directors (the board) has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy and for ensuring compliance with discrimination law. The Company has appointed Debra Cleaver as its Equalities Officer, who has day-to-day responsibility for its operation and compliance. The Company is committed to taking regular independent advice to ensure continuing compliance with its legal responsibilities. The Company is also committed to taking account of the results of its Equal Opportunities monitoring when reviewing this policy.
3.2 All managers must set an appropriate standard of behaviour, lead by example and ensure that those they manage adhere to the policy and promote our aims and objectives with regard to equal opportunities. Managers are given appropriate training on equal opportunities awareness and equal opportunities recruitment and selection best practice.
3.3 If you have any questions about the content or application of this policy, you should contact the Equalities Officer in the first instance.
4. SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF THE POLICY
4.1 This policy applies to all aspects of our relationship with staff and to relations between staff members at all levels. This includes job advertisements, recruitment and selection, training and development, opportunities for promotion, conditions of service, pay and benefits, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and termination of employment.
4.2 We will take appropriate steps to accommodate the requirements of different religions, cultures, and domestic responsibilities.
5. FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
5.1 Discrimination by or against an employee is generally prohibited unless there is a specific legal exemption. Discrimination may be direct or indirect and it may occur intentionally or unintentionally.
5.2 Direct discrimination occurs where someone is treated less favourably because of one or more of the protected characteristics set out above. For example, rejecting an applicant on the grounds of their race because they would not "fit in" would be direct discrimination.
5.3 Indirect discrimination occurs where someone is disadvantaged by an unjustified provision, criterion or practice that also puts other people with the same protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage. For example, a requirement to work full time puts women at a particular disadvantage because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement will need to be objectively justified.
5.4 Harassment related to any of the protected characteristics is prohibited. Harassment is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating someone's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Harassment is dealt with further in our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.
5.5 Victimisation is also prohibited. This is less favourable treatment of someone who has complained or given information about discrimination or harassment, or supported someone else's complaint.
6. RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
6.1 We ensure that no job applicant suffers discrimination because of any of the protected characteristics above. Our recruitment procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure that individuals are treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Job selection criteria are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are relevant to the job and are not disproportionate. Selection for employment will be on the basis of aptitude and ability only.
6.2 Our job advertisements avoid stereotyping or using wording that may discourage particular groups from applying. They will include an appropriate short policy statement on equal opportunities and a copy of this policy shall be sent on request to those who enquire about vacancies.
6.3 We take steps to ensure that our vacancies are advertised to a diverse labour market and, where relevant, to particular groups that have been identified as disadvantaged or underrepresented in our organisation. Where appropriate, use may be made of lawful exemptions to recruit suitably-qualified people to cater for the special needs of particular groups.
6.4 Applicants will not be asked about health or disability before a job offer is made. There are limited exceptions which should only be used with director approval. For example: (a) Questions necessary to establish if an applicant can perform and (b) Questions to establish if an applicant is fit to attend an assessment intrinsic part of the job (subject to any reasonable adjustments). or any reasonable adjustments that may be needed at interview or assessment. (c) Positive action to recruit disabled persons. (d) Equal opportunities monitoring (which will not form part of the decision-making process).
6.5 Applicants will not be asked about past or current pregnancy or future intentions related to pregnancy. Applicants will not be asked about matters concerning age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or gender reassignment without the approval of a director (who should first consider whether such matters are relevant and may lawfully be taken into account).
6.6 We are required by law to ensure that all employees are entitled to work in the UK. Assumptions about immigration status will not be made based on appearance or apparent nationality. All prospective employees, regardless of nationality, must be able to produce original documents (such as a passport) before employment starts, to satisfy current immigration legislation. The list of acceptable documents is available from the UK Border Agency.
6.7 To ensure that this policy is operating effectively, and to identify groups that may be underrepresented or disadvantaged in our organisation, we monitor applicants' ethnic group, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age as part of the recruitment procedure. Provision of this information is voluntary and it will not adversely affect an individual's chances of recruitment or any other decision related to their employment. The information is removed from applications before shortlisting, and kept in an anonymised format solely for the purposes stated in this policy. Analysing this data helps us take appropriate steps to avoid discrimination and improve equality and diversity of our workforce.
7. STAFF TRAINING AND PROMOTION AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
7.1 Staff training needs will be identified through regular staff appraisals. All staff will be given appropriate access to training to enable them to progress within the organisation and all promotion decisions will be made on the basis of aptitude and ability.
7.2 All staff will be helped (by training and continuous development appraisals) and encouraged to develop their full potential and the talents and the resources of the Company will be fully utilised to maximise the efficiency of the business.
7.3 The Company will take steps to ensure that there is no discrimination in the way in which staff appraisals are carried out. Staff responsible for appraisals will receive training in equal opportunities where appropriate.
7.4 To ensure that this policy is operating effectively, and to identify groups that may be underrepresented or disadvantaged in our organisation, we annually monitor our staff’s ethnic group, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age. Provision of this information is voluntary and it will not adversely affect any decision related to their employment. The information is provided and kept in an anonymised format solely for the purposes stated in this policy. Analysing this data helps us take appropriate steps to avoid discrimination and improve equality and diversity of our workforce.
7.5 Workforce composition and promotions will be regularly monitored to ensure equality of opportunity at all levels of the organisation. Where appropriate, steps will be taken to identify and remove unjustified barriers and to meet the special needs of disadvantaged or underrepresented groups.
7.6 Our conditions of service, benefits, facilities and appraisal system are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are available to all staff who should have access to them and that there are no unlawful obstacles to accessing them.
8. TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT
8.1 We will ensure that redundancy criteria and procedures are fair and objective and are not directly or indirectly discriminatory.
8.2 We will also ensure that disciplinary procedures and penalties are applied without discrimination, whether they result in disciplinary warnings, dismissal or other disciplinary action.
9. DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
9.1 If you are disabled or become disabled, we encourage you to tell us about your condition so that we can support you as appropriate.
9.2 If you experience difficulties at work because of your disability, you may wish to contact your Supervisor/Manager/Team Leader/Senior Bailiff to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty. Your Supervisor/Manager/Team Leader/Senior Bailiff may wish to consult with you and your medical adviser(s) about possible adjustments. We will consider the matter carefully and try to accommodate your needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible.
9.3 If you would prefer to discuss a disability issue in confidence, you are encouraged to speak with Huw Lloyd-Lewis.
9.4 We will monitor the physical features of our premises to consider whether they place disabled workers, job applicants or service users at a substantial disadvantage compared to other staff. Where reasonable, we will take steps to improve access for disabled staff and service users.
10. FIXED-TERM EMPLOYEES AND AGENCY WORKERS
We monitor our use of fixed-term employees and agency workers, and their conditions of service, to ensure that they are being offered appropriate access to benefits, training, promotion and permanent employment opportunities. We will, where relevant, monitor their progress to ensure that they are accessing permanent vacancies.
11. PART-TIME WORK
We monitor the conditions of service of part-time employees and their progression to ensure that they are being offered appropriate access to benefits and training and promotion opportunities. We will ensure requests to alter working hours are dealt with appropriately under our Flexible Working Policy.
12. BREACHES OF THIS POLICY
12.1 If you believe that you may have been discriminated against you are encouraged to raise the matter through our Grievance Procedure. If you believe that you may have been subject to harassment you are encouraged to raise the matter through our Anti-harassment Policy. If you are uncertain which applies or need advice on how to proceed you should speak to Huw Lloyd Lewis.
12.2 Allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the relevant procedure. Staff who make such allegations in good faith will not be victimised or treated less favourably as a result. False allegations which are found to have been made in bad faith will, however, be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.
12.3 Any member of staff who is found to have committed an act of discrimination or harassment, or has otherwise breached this policy, will be subject to disciplinary action. Such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct and, as such, may result in summary dismissal. We take a strict approach to serious breaches of this policy.
13. MONITORING AND REVIEW OF THE POLICY
13.1 This policy is reviewed annually by the Equality Officer and board of directors.
13.2 We will continue to review the effectiveness of this policy to ensure it is achieving its objectives. As part of this process we consider the information gathered from monitoring of job applicants and existing staff and the benefits and career progression of our staff.
13.3 Staff are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved by contacting the Equalities Officer at any time.
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY CHARTER
This charter sets out our approach to ensuring inclusion and success for all our employees and external stakeholders including suppliers, clients, and statutory bodies.
Swift Credit Services will seek to ensure that:
- It fulfils all its legal requirements placed on it under Equality Legislation
- It fulfils its duty to make adjustments as far as reasonably practicable, to enable employees and all its stakeholders to have access and carry out their work and responsibilities
- All stakeholders are aware of the value the organisation places upon equality and diversity and that formal investigation may be taken in the event of any breach of policy
- Our marketing and publicity materials present appropriate messages and are designed to respect all members of society
- It provides all stakeholders with a copy of its equality and diversity policies and ensures that they understand their responsibilities and agree adherence to them whilst working with the organisation
- It has inclusive and open recruitment and selection, progression and development processes to encourage employees and clients to develop and progress
We will promote Equality and Diversity by:
- Actively promoting quality of opportunity and good relations between all sections of the communityromoting equality and diversity throughout all operational activities
- Actively encouraging the participation of underrepresented groups in all the diverse activities of the organisation
- Ensuring our service delivery, communications, actions, and resources demonstrate sensitivity to issues of diversity and are adapted as necessary Ensuring that everyone has access to our services Holding accreditations to support equal opportunity standards.
- Delivering an inclusive approach to celebrating success
- Reinforcing our commitment to equality and diversity in our publicity material