Discrimination law has a purpose and is designed to:
- Ensure equality of opportunity at work
- Protect employees’ dignity
- Ensure that complaints can be raised without fear of reprisal
Most employers want to do the right thing but some can get it wrong or not have this same ethos.
What are the consequences for failing to comply with discrimination laws?
- Unlimited compensation payments
- Litigation costs
- Negative impact on staff morale
- Damaging publicity
What areas of working life are covered?
Discrimination law covers all areas of employment, including:
- Job adverts and the recruitment process.
- Conduct during employment.
- Work social events.
- Job references.
Practical steps to take to help avoid breaching discrimination law
- Provide staff with policies on equal opportunities and harassment setting out what constitutes acceptable behaviour and what does not.
- Provide training on equal opportunities and harassment to re-enforce the policy and avoid inappropriate behaviours and recognise harassment at an early stage.
- Set up clear procedures for staff to raise complaints and have them dealt with.
- Ensure discriminatory behaviour by staff is not tolerated and is dealt with through proper disciplinary measures.
- Make reasonable adjustments where this will alleviate difficulties suffered by a disabled employee in the workplace.
- Where possible, accommodate workers’ different cultures and religious beliefs.
- Try to accommodate requests for family-friendly hours by employees with childcare or other family commitments, unless a refusal can be justified.
- Undertake equal opportunities monitoring, but do not use the forms as part of recruitment or other decision making.
Any other ideas?