Equal Opportunities

Equal Opportunities Policy

Hillcrest Early Years Academy is an equal opportunities employer. This equal opportunities policy aims to ensure that no employee or job applicant receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex or sexual orientation, marital status, disability or age, or is disadvantaged by requirements which cannot be shown to be justifiable.

The Hillcrest Academy aims:

  • To remove employment practices which are restrictive because they are based on perceived attributes which are irrelevant, or on assumptions which are unjustifiable in terms of an individual’s ability to do a job.
  • To promote equality of opportunity in employment
  • All employees and candidates for appointment must be given equal opportunity regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex or sexual orientation, marital status, disability or age.
  • Terms and Conditions of employment and the criteria for appointment, promotion, training and termination must be non discriminatory and relevant to actual job requirements.
  • As part of its policy for dealing with harassment at work, the Hillcrest Academy is committed to creating an environment at work where positive action is taken to eradicate discrimination.
  • To ensure that equal opportunities are promoted for all people, particularly those who are seeking and using the Hillcrest Academy’s services and through contractors who supply goods and services to the Council.

The Trust Body’s Role

As the Trust body will have the effective power of appointment, it will also have the responsibility for making sure that it does not breach sex, race or disability discrimination legislation in relation to appointments.

The provisions of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission Codes of Practice will apply to the actions of our Trust body. Provisions will be taken into account by industrial tribunals. The Employment Service has also produced “The Code of Practice on the Employment of Disabled People”, which gives detailed guidance on good practice in the employment of disabled persons. Personnel Services are available to assist Heads on any equal opportunity issues.

5 DEVELOPING AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY

5.1 SUGGESTED OUTLINE

A suggested outline for an equal opportunities policy:

‘The school wholeheartedly supports the principle of equal opportunities in employment and opposes all forms of unlawful or unfair discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sex, or sexual orientation, age, being married or disabled. We believe it is in the school’s best interests, and those of all who work in it, to ensure that the human resources, talents and skills available throughout the community are considered when employment opportunities arise. To this end, within the framework of the law, we are committed, wherever practicable, to achieving and maintaining a staff which broadly reflects the local community which we serve.’

5.2 SET AN ACTION PLAN INCLUDING TARGETS

When setting equality targets it is important to aim for realistic and achievable results. The targets should take account of the availability of the targeted group within the recruitment area, the representation in the various levels of the existing staff, any expected growth or decline in the size of the school and estimated staffing needs in relation to both recruitment and promotion.

5.3 PROVIDE TRAINING FOR ALL

All staff and Governors can benefit from training so that they may better understand the reasons for and consequences of discrimination, the benefits which equal opportunities can bring, what the school expects from its staff in their treatment of others, and their personal obligations under the law. However, those involved in making decisions in recruitment, selection, promotion and training are particularly likely to benefit from training. 4 Handbook/Section G.

5.4 MONITOR THE PRESENT POSITION AND MONITOR PROGRESS IN ACHIEVING OBJECTIVES

A successful monitoring system will:

  • give a clear picture of the composition of the existing staff;
  • identify concentrations of particular groups of people in certain areas and levels of work;
  • identify whether particular groups of people are under-represented and where action on this may be needed;
  • provide a benchmark from which the effectiveness of the equal opportunities policy can be measured;
  • help to evaluate the fairness and effectiveness of the recruitment and advertising policies and increase the professionalism of the recruitment process;
  • support those with responsibility for equal opportunity matters, by providing them with factual information;
  • help to show a commitment to equal opportunities.

5.5 REVIEW RECRUITMENT, SELECTION, PROMOTION AND TRAINING PROCEDURES REGULARLY

It is important that a system of regular reviews is established to ensure that unlawful or unfair practices are not introduced inadvertently. Monitoring will help to identify where the equal opportunities policy is being successful and highlight those areas where they may be cause for concern.

5.6 DRAW UP CLEAR AND JUSTIFIABLE JOB CRITERIA

Job criteria are provided by a job description and a person specification. The job description sets out the specific duties of the post. The person specification sets out the specific skills, qualifications, knowledge and personal qualities which are necessary to perform the duties effectively. There should be no requirements which are not clearly related to the duties of the post. The skills, qualifications, knowledge and personal qualities of the candidates can be compared with the person specification and the one who fits it best can be identified. Careful use of this  approach avoids the risk of inadvertently discriminating against any particular group of people. 5 Handbook/Section G

5.7 OFFER PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRAINING AND POSITIVE ACTION TRAINING

Pre-employment training helps employers to recruit unemployed people, amongst whom people from ethnic minorities and those with disabilities tend to be over-represented. Positive action is a range of measures which employers can lawfully take to encourage and train people from a racial group or one sex, which is under-represented, to help them overcome disadvantages in competing with other applicants. Measures can also be taken to help those who have special needs because of the period they have been carrying out domestic or family responsibilities to the exclusion of regular full-time employment.

POSITIVE ACTION

Although they are not legally required, positive measures are allowed by the law to encourage employees and potential employees and provide training for employees who are members of particular groups which have been under represented in particular work. Discrimination at the point of selection for work, however, is not permissible in these circumstances and selection for interviews and posts must be based solely on merit.

5.8 CONSIDER THE SCHOOL’S IMAGE

The image of an employer who is obviously putting an equal opportunities policy into practice will help attract a wider range and better quality of candidates for jobs from among all those available. Retention of staff becomes easier and staff turnover and the associated costs can be reduced.

5.9 CONSIDER FLEXIBLE WORKING

Introducing flexible working patterns and other facilities is an effective means of attracting and retaining a wider range of potential employees. They will include people with domestic responsibilities, people with disabilities and people with particular cultural and religious needs.

Broadening the recruitment field in this way will help the school compete for staff.

Examples of flexible working patterns are:

  • part-time working;
  • job sharing;
  • term-time working;
  • flexible working hours;
  • career breaks;
  • voluntary reduced time.

Further advice and information leaflets on flexible working patterns are available from your Personnel Adviser.

A range of schemes are available to assist employers in ensuring that people with disabilities are fully integrated into the workforce and allowed fully to play their part. 6 Handbook/Section G

5.10 DEVELOP LINKS WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUPS AND ORGANISATIONS

Increasingly employers are recognising the benefits of being involved in measures to improve employment opportunities for people in their local community, particularly for certain groups. Developing partnerships with the local community can be a fruitful investment of time and resources, since sources can be cultivated from which to meet some of the present and future staffing needs.

6 RECRUITMENT & SELECTION

In order to avoid the risk of inadvertently discriminating against any particular group of people, Governors are urged to take account of the following advice in their procedures for recruitment, selection and promotion. More details of the recruitment process are included in Section D.

6.1 ADVERTISING

Proper advertising of all posts is recommended. Wording should not be discriminatory and should contain only those criteria specifically related to the essential criteria of the post. The use of the County Council’s advertising facilities will ensure that checks against possible discriminatory statements are made.

6.2 JOB CRITERIA

Draw up clear and justifiable job criteria. Although it is not illegal to discriminate on age, policies should include a commitment to remove arbitrary age discrimination. Selection for interviews and posts must be based solely on merit and it is illegal to discriminate positively or negatively at those stages.

6.3 APPLICATION FORMS

Governors are urged to use the County Council’s standard application forms in their recruitment processes. These forms have been designed to avoid questions which could indicate intended sex-bias. It is irrelevant to the process of objective selection for employment, for example, for the appointing panel to know the age or marital status of a candidate or the number and ages of children the candidate may have. The County Council’s application form asks applicant to supply information as to whether they consider themselves to have a disability and if so to supply any information they feel will enable the employer to offer them a fair selection interview.

Monitoring forms should be removed from the application forms prior to shortlisting and interviews. Information on the forms should be used for monitoring purposes only and should not be used for the purpose of selection. Age is included on the application form because the monitoring form is removed, but appointing officers need to know for example if someone is over 65 years. Handbook/Section G

6.4 INVITATION TO INTERVIEW LETTER

Should give details on access to the interview centre and any tests to be performed. Candidates should be requested to advise on any special requirements they may have and it should be emphasised that they are welcome to discuss any adjustments they consider necessary in view of their previous work experience, but this is not a requirement.

6.5 THE INTERVIEW

No questions should be based upon assumptions regarding women’s roles in the home and the family. Questions regarding intentions about marriage and children must not be asked. Any questions which are asked to ascertain whether the individual can meet the needs of the job should be asked equally of all candidates. Care should, however, be exercised since it does not necessarily follow that asking the same question of both sexes ensures that no discrimination will occur. The use to which the answers are put may still be discriminatory if, for example, a specific role for women were assumed. Similarly, questions should not be asked about a candidates health, however, if the candidate wishes to take the opportunity to discuss “disabling barriers” or adjustments, this type of ‘candidate-led’ discussion is acceptable, but it should be explained that:

  • selection decisions will not be influenced by the extent of the adjustment required;
  • any offer of employment will be provisional, subject to medical clearance;
  • the candidate will not be allowed to start work until any reasonable adjustments have been considered and provided for.

 

In general terms it is safer to avoid questions at interview on the following topics:

  • marital status or plans;
  • number and age of children;
  • domestic, childcare and other caring arrangements;
  • reasons for career breaks;
  • occupation of partner;
  • sexuality;
  • residence or accommodation;
  • mobility or means of transport;
  • nationality;
  • religious beliefs;
  • trade union membership;
  • political affiliation;
  • willingness to participate in extra curricular activities.

 

The Chairman of the interviewing panel should if, in spite of contrary advice, a member of the panel asks discriminatory questions, not allow the line of questioning to continue. 8 Handbook/Section G

6.6 APPOINTMENT PROCEDURES

Appointment must be on merit and following assessment at interview at the same time as the other candidates. If the person can do the essential duties of the job (with a reasonable adjustment)  then, if that candidate is the best, they should be offered the job.

6.7 MEDICAL CLEARANCE

The County Council’s Medical Adviser will offer advice on whether a candidate is fit for a particular post and whether adjustments may be required on receipt of:

  • a completed health questionnaire (it is essential that this is not opened by anyone other than the Medical Adviser);
  • a copy of the job description;
  • a note of any views the candidate may have in relation to adjustments required, following agreement with the appointing officer.

6.8 POST-OFFER STAGE

Where the Medical Adviser has recommended adjustments, it is the responsibility of the appointing officer to decide what is reasonable. Advice in relation to this and other issues such as access and health and safety may be sought from the County Council’s Access Officer and/or the School’s Safety Adviser.

6.9 TRAINING AND PROMOTION

It must be remembered that, in addition to the recruitment and selection process, equal opportunities applies to such things as training and promotion. The criteria used by the school to select people for training and promotion needs to be examined carefully to ensure that they do not indirectly discriminate against women, minority groups, or people with disabilities.

Presumptions that women will be less keen to be promoted or to attend external or internal training programmes should be actively avoided.

7 EQUAL PAY – EQUAL VALUE

7.1 THE LEGAL CONTEXT

The concept of Equal Pay in the UK relates to the following areas of legislation.

The Equal Pay Act 1970 (as amended by the Sex Discrimination Act 1975).