All employers need to comply with the Equality Act, and it’s sensible to put together an equal opportunities policy to formalise your approach.
We’ve teamed up with Clarkslegal LLP to bring you an equal opportunities policy template that you can customise to make sure that it works for you.
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An equal opportunities policy is a document that sets out an organisation’s approach to equal opportunities and establishes guidelines for dealing with workplace discrimination.
All workplaces must comply with equal opportunities legislation, and having a written policy can help to demonstrate your approach and explain it to your employees.
Under the Equality Act 2010, people are legally protected from discrimination in society, which includes protection for employees in the workplace.
For a business, this means that everyone should have an equal chance to apply and be selected for posts, to be trained, to be promoted, and to have their employment ended fairly. In particular, from the point of view of discrimination law, employers must not discriminate based on the following ‘protected characteristics’:
An employee can make a claim to the employment tribunal if they believe they’ve been discriminated against. If the claim is successful, the employer can be asked to pay compensation – that might happen even if the discrimination was by a colleague rather than the employer as such as they might be “vicariously liable”, but if the employer took steps to prevent discrimination it might be able to defend that claim.
The Clarkslegal equal opportunities policy template states the organisation’s commitment to equal opportunities and says that employees must cooperate with the company to ensure equal opportunities and prevent discrimination. There’s a section in the policy that outlines what is meant by direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, victimisation, harassment and discrimination arising from a disability.
The template includes a description of how the recruitment process will uphold equal opportunities legislation, and also how training, transfer and promotion will be fair and compliant. There’s a section about terms of employment (including equality in terms of benefits and pay) and a note about how the organisation will deal with allegations of discrimination and how equal opportunity monitoring will take place.
The equal opportunities template provides an example of an employer equal opportunities policy. It provides you with a basis for forming your company’s own policy.
You should go through the template carefully and adapt it to fit your business and your organisational structure. However, you should keep the legislation in mind when you’re doing this, always making sure that your policy complies with the 2010 Equality Act. Seek help from an employment law specialist if you need it.
It’s important to remember that your organisation must adhere to what you set out in your policy. This goes far beyond preparing a policy document: it will mean putting processes and checks in place to make sure you’re treating employees and prospective employees fairly.
If you would like to make changes and don’t have Adobe Acrobat, you can also download our equal opportunities policy template in Word format.
The attached document has been produced by Clarkslegal so we can’t take responsibility for its contents. We'd recommend you take professional advice before making any important decisions based on its contents.
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