Equality & Diversity Policy
1. We are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. This applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and other parties. The Firm’s appointed Equality and Diversity Representative is Helen Fanning based at the Nottingham Office.
2. The Firm treats everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:
- Sex (including pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
- Marital or civil partnership status;
- Gender reassignment;
- Sexual orientation;
- Race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
- Religion or belief;
- Age (or perceived age);
- Caring responsibility; or
- Disability (past or present).
3. The Firm take all reasonable steps to ensure that the firm and its staff do not unlawfully discriminate under:
- The Equality Act 2010;
- The Employment Rights Act 1996;
- The Human Rights Act 1998;
- The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
- The Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
- The Work and Families Act 2006;
- The Civil Partnership Act 2004; and
- Any other relevant legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services.
4. Wherever possible, the Firm take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that the Firm provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that the Firm serve, in order to ensure that, subject to funding or other reasonable constraints, our services are accessible to all clients. The Firm’s Communication Plan is available on the website and can be provided to clients on request along with a copy of this Policy.
5. The Firm are committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. The Firm take steps to identify the needs of clients in the community and develop plans and procedures setting out how the Firm will meet clients’ needs and for ensuring the services which the Firm provide are accessible to all. The Firm take account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English. In particular, the Firm make reasonable adjustments to ensure that clients with a disability, vulnerability or particular need are not placed at a substantial disadvantage and do not pass on the costs of adjustments to these clients. The Firm consider whether particular groups are predominant within our client base and, where possible, ensure that their needs are met.
6. The Firm do not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with experts and third parties. All experts and third parties are instructed from a register of experts and have been assessed by the firm as being capable of meeting both our firm’s and our clients’ requirements. Experts and third parties are instructed because they satisfy our selection criteria.
7. The Firm treat all job applicants equally and fairly and do not unlawfully discriminate against them. The Firm do this by ensuring that the Firm operate an open and fair recruitment process, using selection criteria which do not discriminate, and making decisions based on individual qualities and personal merit. Recruitment and promotion within the firm is made solely on merit.
8. The Firm consider all employees to be equal and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will, for example, include arrangements for employment, recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, conditions of service, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, dress code, work allocation and any other employment related activities. In particular, in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy, the Firm actively consider the making of reasonable workplace adjustments to ensure that staff members with a disability, vulnerability or particular need are fully supported and are not put at a substantial disadvantage compared to other staff. The Firm will monitor the physical features of our premises to improve access and working arrangements for all staff but staff members who experience any difficulties at work are encouraged to raise these issues as soon as possible in accordance with our Flexible Working and Workplace Arrangements Procedures.
9. The Firm monitor and record, at least annually, equality & diversity information about job applicants and existing staff including key personnel on the basis of gender, age, disability and ethnic groups. In addition to the monitoring undertaken as set out above, the Firm also annually monitor the number of employees from different gender, disability, age, ethnic groups by grade when:
- Already employed in a particular post;
- Applying for a post;
- Taking up training and development opportunities;
- Disciplined and dismissed; and leaving employment.
10. All monitoring data will be reviewed by the Equality and Diversity Representative and she will be responsible for:
- Implementing remedial action where any under-representation of the groups listed above is identified. In such cases, the firm will seek professional advice from an employment specialist and/or the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in relation to the appropriate remedial action to be taken. It is recognised that such remedial action could include the identification of specific training needs and/or the taking of positive action to increase employee diversity.
- Implementing and monitoring our Equality & Diversity policy
- Ensuring that adequate resources are available to meet equality and diversity needs
- Providing equality & diversity information to the Legal Aid Agency as required in relation to staff and clients under the terms of the LAA Contracts.
- Reporting to the CEO on compliance.
- Promoting a culture of equality and diversity awareness and compliance by means of education and training and overseeing arrangements for the sharing of information on equality and diversity including.
- Providing assistance to any individual staff members who have been assigned responsibility for any specific equality and diversity actions.
- Considering whether reasonable adjustments need to be made for clients, third parties and staff members. Requests for adjustments and flexible working arrangements are considered in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy;
- Ensuring that appropriate action is taken in relation to any non-compliance identified under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities.
- Reviewing this policy annually to verify it is in effective operation.
- Consulting with the workforce on issues in relation to Equality and Diversity should they arise.
11. All staff members are informed of this policy as part of their induction. The Firm identifies additional equality and diversity training needs as and when appropriate and address them as part of staff members’ training plans. All HODs, Managers and staff responsible for recruitment and selection will undertake equality and diversity training. This includes the provision of regular update training on compliance with equality & diversity requirements. Our Equality & Diversity training and communication objectives are reviewed at least annually.
12. All staff are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and the specific Outcomes within Chapter 2 of the SRA Code of Conduct and have personal responsibility for ensuring compliance with them when undertaking their jobs or representing our firm and which extends to their treatment of job applicants, existing or former employees, clients, external suppliers and/or visitors.
13. Written instructions will be provided to all managers and supervisors on equality in relation to employees and recruitment including:
- Recruitment selections;
- Training promotion;
- Disciplinary matters;
14. The Firm treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination made by any of our staff, clients, barristers, experts or other third parties and will take action where appropriate. All complaints are investigated by the Personnel Manager in accordance with our Grievance Procedure or Complaints Procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome. She also monitors the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination.
15. Where acts of unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation and/or failure to comply with this policy by any member of staff are identified, the Personnel Manager will ensure that our Disciplinary Procedure is followed and this may result in disciplinary proceedings being instigated.
16. The Firm will monitor and record equality and diversity information about staff on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity, and disability.
- Where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, the sexual orientation and religion or belief of staff will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them. If individuals choose not to disclose their sexual orientation or religion or belief care will be taken to avoid inadvertent discrimination.
- Equality and diversity data will be stored as confidential personal data with restriction of access to this information. It will be used exclusively for the purposes of equality and diversity monitoring and will have no bearing on opportunities or benefits.
- The Firm will monitor all elements of:
(i) Recruitment and selection process (applicants and existing staff)
(ii) Promotion and transfer
(iii) Training (all training opportunities not restricted to equality and diversity training)
(iv) Terms and conditions of employment
(v) Take up of benefits (work life balance policies e.g. flexible working requests)
(vi) Grievance and disciplinary procedures
(vii) Capability and performance procedures
(viii) Resignations, redundancies and dismissals.
- The Firm will provide equality and diversity information to the Legal Aid Agency as required in relation to personnel and clients under the terms of the LAA Contracts.
- The Firm will provide all candidates selected for interview with an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form. The Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form will be returned to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org being an email address that is not monitored by anyone who would be conducting an interview for a potential employee. The completed forms will then form part of the Firm’s annual review of Equality of Diversity within the practice.
17. The Firm will review the operation of this policy not less than annually (or more regularly if any non-compliance or problem concerning equality and diversity issues with clients or by the Equality and Diversity Representative is identified). Remedial action will be taken on discovery of non-compliance under this policy or barriers to equality and diversity. Reviews of the policy will consider the outcome of monitoring and review actions under our communications and training plans.
Let us know how we can help. Just provide a brief outline of your query.