Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace still happens. But what exactly is discrimination and how can companies set up an effective anti-discrimination policy that deal with problems before they become worse?
Read on to find out.
What is an anti-discrimination policy?
Anti-discrimination policies enforce a company’s commitment toward stopping discrimination in the workplace. This type of workplace policy must align with any existing laws and regulations set up to prevent discrimination to an individual, especially against those who belong to a protected class.
Anti-discrimination policies should outline the actions that must be addressed against discrimination of any kind, such as age, appearance, colour, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, etc.
Through this type of policy, the company can effectively set the standards throughout the company. It can also set expectations on how to deal with discrimination in the workplace as well as identifying the roles and responsibilities of individuals who are responsible for addressing violations of the policy.
What types of discrimination should the policy cover?
To create an effective anti-discrimination policy that has a wide coverage, businesses should familiarize themselves with the types of workplace discrimination that can arise. These might include:
- Ageism. This is discrimination that is made based on an employee’s age. It’s important to note that ageism can apply to employees of all ages, not just those who are older.
- Ableism. This type of discrimination happens when an employer treats an employee or applicant differently if they have a disability or a history of being disabled. Disability law in the UK protects the rights of an individual with a disability by allowing them to be accommodated fairly by employers upon their job application and throughout their employment.
- Racism. Despite being illegal, racial discrimination (that is discrimination based on an employee’s skin colour or ethnicity) continues to be persistent in the workplace. Any anti-discrimination policy will need to address this in detail.
- Religious discrimination. Discriminating against an employee because of their religious beliefs is illegal and is also protected by law.
- Gender discrimination. Gender discrimination is also illegal but can have a wide range of effects on staff. It’s important to note that gender discrimination is not exclusive to women and men can be discriminated against too.
- Sexual orientation discrimination. Whether an employee identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, they are still entitled to their rights as an individual and these rights should be protected in the workplace by company policies that are in line with the law.
What exactly does the law say about anti-discrimination in the UK?
Anti-discrimination legislation in the UK is concerned with protecting employees, applicants for employment and other categories of protected individuals from discrimination and harassment in respect of the following protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sex and sexual orientation
What exactly does discrimination or harassment mean?
If an employee can show that they have been treated less favourably compared to a colleague with circumstances similar to their own, then they may have a claim for discrimination against their employer.
Harassment occurs where an employer subjects a worker to unwanted conduct relating to a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of:
- Violating a worker’s dignity, or
- Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the worker.
What are the employer’s obligations to provide reasonable adjustments?
UK anti-discrimination legislation imposes a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments to their premises or employment arrangements if they substantially disadvantage a disabled worker or job applicant.
A number of factors can be taken into account to assess whether it is reasonable to make a particular adjustment, including the cost of the adjustment, the financial resources of the employer, how easy it is to make the adjustment and how much it would improve the situation.
It’s important to cover the types of reasonable adjustments the business can make in any anti-discrimination policy.
What penalties can I face if found guilty of discrimination?
A dismissal on discriminatory grounds is not subject to any limit on compensation and there is no requirement for any period of continuous service. The award is made up of:
- A compensatory award – uncapped for past and future financial losses and judged in the light of the employee’s future job prospects.
- An injury to feelings award. The amount of this award will depend on the seriousness of the case.
So, what should I put in my anti-discrimination policy to protect my business?
The anti-discrimination policy of your company should enforce the message throughout the workplace that the company does not tolerate any discriminatory behaviour. If an employee reports discrimination at work, the anti-discrimination policy should set out specific actions to address the situations.
Here are a few things to include in the policy:
Outline of objectives
At the start of any anti-discrimination policy, a company should outline the objectives of the policy. This is the section of the policy that states the company’s commitment to addressing any reports or claims on discrimination as well as their commitment to treating staff fairly.
A definition of key concepts
It is necessary to define the key concepts of the anti-discrimination policy to create a clear and common understanding within the company. In this section you will need to identify exactly what constitutes sexual harassment, racism, and agism etc.
Set out roles and responsibilities
A policy only works if the company has a team of people assigned specific roles and responsibilities in carrying out the contents of the policy. Managers and supervisors should be specified in dealing with reports or allegations of discrimination.
Explain how discrimination will be dealt with
The policy should indicate how the company will deal with any report of discrimination. It should also define how the investigation of allegations will be carried out, as well as state the key individuals who are obligated to investigate fairly and objectively.
Discrimination in the workplace can be disastrous for morale and may lead to legal proceedings against a business. Having a robust anti-discriminatory policy can help prevent problems and keep the company the right side of the law.
- Accurate pay out of incentives & allowances
- Job contract & personal records online
- Payroll, absence & vacation records online
- Fair absence requests & approval policy
- Timely perks & benefits distribution & monitoring
- Transparent grievance & redressal policy
- Access staff records with secure rights online