Situations Recruitment Agency Limited (“Situations”) embraces diversity amongst its workforce and amongst the candidates that register with it, and it is committed to eliminating discrimination. Situations’ aim is that its workforce and candidates will be truly representative of all sections of society and each employee and candidate feels respected and able to give of their best. Situations will seek to widen the media in which it recruits to ensure as diverse an employee and candidate base as possible. Situations will also strive to ensure that its clients meet their own diversity targets.
At the core of Situations’ values is the respect for the dignity and worth of the individual. Our imperative is to attract and retain the best talent by providing an environment where people from varying backgrounds can secure and develop a rewarding career.
Situations is committed to diversity and will promote diversity for all employees, workers and applicants and shall adhere to such a policy at all times. Situations will review on an ongoing basis all aspects of recruitment to avoid unlawful or undesirable discrimination. Situations will treat everyone equally irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, gender questioning, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, political beliefs, spent convictions or membership or non-membership of a Trade Union. Situations places an obligation upon all staff to respect and act in accordance with the policy and is committed to providing training for its entire staff in equal opportunities practice.
These values apply to all employees, agents, candidates, clients, contractors or temporary staff of Situations. They apply within the workplace itself and all other work-related settings including business travel, meetings or social events on behalf of Situations.
Situations will not accept instructions from clients that indicate an intention to discriminate unlawfully.
PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY
The purpose of this policy is to provide equality and fairness for all in Situations’ employment and for every candidate who registers with Situations.
Situations is an equal opportunities employer and opposes all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination. This means that it is Situations' policy that there should be no discrimination, harassment, less favourable treatment or victimisation of any employee, job applicant, candidate, client, customer or provider of services either directly or indirectly on the grounds of:-
- sexual orientation
- gender reassignment/questioning
- marital, family or civil partnership status
- ethnic origin
- national origin
- religion or beliefs
- political beliefs
- spent convictions
- membership or non-membership of a Trade Union
This applies at all stages of the employment relationship, from initial enquiry, interview and appointment, to promotion and reward, to termination.
All employees and candidates of Situations, whether permanent, contract or temporary, and whether full time or part time, will be treated fairly and with respect. Selection for recruitment, employment, promotion, training or any other benefit will be solely on the basis of aptitude and ability. All decisions will be based on merit. All employees and candidates will be helped and encouraged to develop their full potential and the talents and resources of Situations workforce will be fully utilised to maximise the efficiency of the organisation.
Situations will not discriminate unlawfully when deciding which candidate is submitted for a vacancy or assignment, or in any terms of employment or terms of engagement for temporary workers. Situations will ensure that each candidate is assessed only in accordance with their merits, qualifications and ability to perform the relevant duties required by the particular vacancy or assignment.
This policy is fully supported by the Directors of Situations and is given to all staff upon joining Situations.
This policy will be monitored and reviewed annually.
OBJECTIVES OF THIS POLICY
In issuing this policy, Situations has three main objectives:
- to encourage its employees to take an active role in combating all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment;
- to deter employees from participating in unlawful harassment or discriminatory behaviour; and
- to demonstrate to all employees that they can rely upon Situations' support in cases of unlawful harassment or discrimination at work.
All employees are expected to familiarise themselves with the requirements of this policy and will be obliged to co-operate to ensure that the policy is carried out effectively.
- To create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all of Situations’ staff and candidates are recognised and valued.
- Every employee and candidate is entitled to a working environment that promotes dignity and respect to all. No form of intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated.
- Training, development and progression opportunities are available to all staff
- Equality in the workplace is good management practice and makes sound business sense
- Situations will review all of their employment practices and procedures to ensure fairness.
It is the responsibility of all employees of Situations to be aware of and behave in accordance with this Equal Opportunities policy. Breaches of this policy will be taken seriously, be fully investigated and may be subject to disciplinary procedures, including dismissal. Staff may bring genuine complaints of breach of these principles to one or more of the Directors without fear of retaliation or detriment in return (provided that such complaints are brought in "good faith" by the individual). Complaints will be treated confidentially so far as possible.
Any instances of uncertainty about the scope or application of this policy in practice, or other questions, should be addressed to a Director of Situations, as should requests for special training on Equal Opportunities.
PROHIBITED DISCRIMINATION/UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR
This policy prohibits the following forms of unlawful discrimination/unacceptable behaviour:-
Direct discrimination occurs where one individual treats or would treat another individual less favourably on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment/questioning, marital, family or civil partnership status, age, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, national origin, religion or beliefs, political beliefs, disability, spent convictions and/or membership or non-membership of a Trade Union (together called “the Protected Categories”)
Situations will request candidates’ and potential/staff members’ dates of birth as part of its recruitment process, but such information will not be used as selection, training or promotion criteria or in any detrimental way and is only for compilation of personal data, which the company holds on all employees, workers and candidates and as part of its equal opportunities monitoring.
It is unlawful for a recruitment consultancy to discriminate against a person on the grounds of a Protected Category:-
a) in the terms on which the recruitment consultancy offers to provide any of its services;
b) by refusing or deliberately omitting to provide any of its services; and
c) in the way it provides any of its services.
Direct discrimination would also occur if a recruitment consultancy accepted and acted upon a job registration from an employer which states that certain persons are unacceptable due to a Protected Category, unless one of the exceptions applies, for instance if the job demands a genuine occupational requirement, or in the case of age the discrimination can be lawfully justified.
Direct discrimination also occurs if, on the grounds of a disabled person’s disability, an individual treats the disabled person less favourably than he treats or would treat a person not having that particular disability, whose relevant circumstances including abilities are the same as, or not materially different from, those of the disabled person. This type of direct discrimination can never be justified.
Indirect discrimination occurs where an agency or employer applies a provision, criterion or practice generally which disadvantages a minority group in the community on the basis of a Protected Category. An example of indirect discrimination may include insisting on certain qualifications that are not essential to the performance of a job.
Indirect discrimination would also occur if a recruitment consultant accepted and acted upon an indirectly discriminatory instruction from an employer.
If the vacancy requires characteristics which amount to a genuine occupational requirement, or the instruction is lawfully discriminatory due to a statutory exception or objective justification, Situations will not deal further with the vacancy unless the client provides written confirmation of such genuine occupational requirement, exception or justification.
Harassment is unwanted and unwelcome behaviour which an individual may find offensive, which causes them to feel threatened, humiliated, patronised or harassed and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating work environment for the individual.
Harassment may be open or covert, direct or indirect, an isolated incident or a series of repeated actions. It may also include, in certain circumstances, off-duty conduct.
Situations is committed to providing a work environment free from unlawful harassment on the grounds of any of the Protected Categories.
This policy prohibits unlawful harassment by any employee or worker of Situations. It is the duty and responsibility of Situations and every employee to take reasonable steps to stop all types of unlawful harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It is only through the efforts of individual employees that unlawful harassment and discrimination can be eradicated. Every employee in Situations has the right not to be subject to any form of unlawful harassment or discrimination.
Examples of harassment (where the conduct, act or omission is related to one of the unlawful grounds listed in the first paragraph of this Harassment section above) may include:-
- Verbal or written conduct containing derogatory jokes or comments;
- Visual conduct such as derogatory or sexually orientated posters or graffiti;
- Photographs, cartoons, drawings or gestures which some may find offensive;
- Insulting behaviour
- Open hostility towards workers of a particular group, including organised hostility in the workplace;
- Physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, or any interference because of sex, race or any other Protected Category basis;
- Exclusion from normal workplace conversation or social events;
- Inappropriate assumptions about the capabilities of an individual; and
- Retaliation for having reported or threatened to report harassment
Sexual harassment may include:-
- Explicit sexual propositions;
- Sexual innuendoes;
- Suggestive comments;
- Offensive or obscene language or gestures;
- Displays of offensive or obscene printed visual or electronic material;
- Slurs or unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature;
- Threats or demands to submit to sexual requests as a condition of continued employment or to avoid some other loss, and offers of employment benefits in return for sexual favours
Harassment can happen:-
- Between employees at the same level
- Between employees of any level
- From male-male, female-female; male-female or female-male
- Between employees of the same or different race, religion, ethnic origin, colour, national origin or age
- Between employees of the same or different abilities
The above examples are not exhaustive and each incident will be viewed on its individual facts.
Other behaviours that will not be tolerated under any circumstances includes:-
Bullying is the unjust exercise of power of one individual over another by the use of means intended to intimidate, degrade or humiliate another person.
Bullying in the workplace may include, but is not limited to:-
- Minimisation or non-acknowledgement of contribution to team activities;
- Deliberately withholding work/study related information or resources, or supplying incorrect information to an individual;
- Creating unexplained job changes, setting meaningless tasks or tasks well beyond a person’s job description;
- Spreading malicious rumours, or using abusive or offensive language, insults, inappropriate comments about a person’s appearance, personal life or lifestyle, defamation of individuals or their family associates;
- Constant belittling opinions;
- Isolating individuals from normal work/study interaction without justification;
- Impossible demands within the framework of existing work standards;
- Teasing or regularly being made the brunt of pranks / practical jokes;
- Displaying written or pictorial material which degrades or offends an individual;
Email messages including:-
- Attempts to read, delete, copy or modify e-mails of other users;
- Communication which fits the bullying behaviour described above;
- Comments or images that would offend a person on the basis of his or her gender, age, sexual orientation, religion or political beliefs;
- Exhibition, copying or transmission of obscene or sexually explicit images or actions on company networks
Bullying is not:-
- An occasional raised voice
- Legitimate and fair criticism of an employee’s work or behaviour at work
- Proper and correct monitoring of an employee under company policy or because of suspected criminal behaviour
- An occasional argument
- Changing targets to suit business needs
- From time to time negotiating extra workloads to suit business needs
- Banter that is acceptable to both parties
Behaviour that vilifies or, by a public act, incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or serious ridicule of, a person or a group of persons on the ground of the person’s or group’s race, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS status or transgender/gender questioning is prohibited.
Victimisation, which is also prohibited, occurs when a member of staff treats an existing or former member of staff less favourably because:-
- that other person has in good faith brought proceedings alleging that they have been discriminated against; or
- has indicated that they intend to make such a claim or claims; or
- they have assisted a colleague to make such a claim, whether or not that claim is accepted as having any merit.
It will not necessarily be a defence that such incidents consist of words or behaviour which might be claimed to be "common place" or which were intended as a joke or were not intended to be offensive. However, nothing in this policy takes away a manager's right to manage, including the imposition of reasonable pressure to perform or behave to an acceptable standard, and where appropriate, of disciplinary sanctions. Where the manager's conduct is a reasonable response to a perceived problem, this will not constitute bullying or harassment, notwithstanding that this response may cause an employee to feel under threat or otherwise distressed.
This Policy also covers the treatment of those employees, workers and candidates who work on a part-time basis. Situations recognises that it is an essential part of this policy that part-time employees and candidates are treated on the same terms, with no detriment, as full-time employees (albeit on a pro rata basis) in matters such as rates of pay, holiday entitlement, leave and access to any benefits that Situations offer. Situations also recognises that part-time employees must be treated the same as full-time employees in relation to training and redundancy situations.
Gender Reassignment Policy
Situations recognises that any employee or worker may wish to change their gender during the course of their employment with the company. Situations will support any employee or worker through the reassignment provided that full medical counselling has been undertaken by the relevant employee or worker and that Situations has access to any relevant medical reports. Situations will make every effort to try to protect an employee or worker who has undergone, is undergoing or intends to undergo gender reassignment, from discrimination or harassment within the workplace. All employees and workers will be expected to comply with Situations’ policy on harassment in the workplace. Any breach of such policy will lead to the appropriate disciplinary action. Any employee or worker suffering discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment should make recourse to Situations’ grievance procedure.
DUTY TO MAKE REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS AND TO PROVIDE AUXILIARY AIDS
Where a provision, criterion or practice applied by or on behalf of Situations or an employer, or any physical feature of Situations’ or the employer’s premises, places a physically or mentally disabled or impaired person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled or impaired, then it will be the duty of Situations and the employer to take such steps as are reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, to remove the provision, criterion, practice or physical feature.
Situations must take reasonable steps to provide auxiliary aids or services if this would make it easier for the disabled person to use their services. For instance, an appropriate auxiliary aid or service can include the provision of information on audiotape or provision of a sign language interpreter.
Wherever possible Situations will make reasonable adjustments to hallways, passages and doors in order to provide and improve means of access for disabled candidates, employees and workers. However this may not always be feasible, due to circumstances creating such difficulties as to render such adjustments as being beyond what is reasonable in all the circumstances. If required, Situations will arrange interviews at locations other than their offices which will provide easy access for disabled persons.
Whilst Situations recognises that the overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy lies with Situations itself, all employees (whatever their position within Situations) have some measure of responsibility for ensuring its effective implementation. In this respect, employees should ensure that:-
- they co-operate with any measures introduced to develop equal opportunities;
- they refrain from taking unlawful discriminatory actions or decisions which are contrary to either the letter or spirit of this policy;
- they do not harass, abuse or intimidate other employees, job applicants, customers, providers of services or members of the public in a manner contrary to either the letter or the spirit of this policy;
- they do not instruct, induce, or attempt to induce or pressurise other employees to act in breach of this policy;
- they advise Situations if they are aware of any unlawful discriminatory conduct, either against themselves or any third party contrary to the spirit of this policy, so that Situations can take steps to deal with it at an early stage.
BREACHES OF POLICY
Breaches of Situations' Equal Opportunities Policy and procedures will be regarded as misconduct and will usually result in Situations' disciplinary procedure being invoked against the individual responsible. In serious cases, the perpetrator may be dismissed.
Where an employee or candidate believes that they have been or are being unlawfully harassed, bullied, victimised or discriminated against, contrary to the law or to the equal opportunities policy, they can invoke the complaints procedure, whether formal or informal, set out below, against the alleged harasser or discriminator.
Every complaint will be investigated fully and dealt with sympathetically, without bias and as quickly as is practicable. Situations recognises that some complainants may prefer not to have their names used going forward. Situations will seek to accommodate such requests as far as practicable but staff will appreciate that if Situations is unable to mention names this may limit its ability to investigate the complaint with the alleged perpetrator. This, in turn, may limit the extent to which Situations can pursue the complaint and/or take action against the perpetrator.
Every effort will be made to ensure that employees who make a complaint in good faith will not suffer any further detriment or be victimised because of making such a complaint. Any complaint of victimisation will be dealt with seriously, promptly and (so far as practicable) confidentially.
Prior to adopting the formal procedure set out below an informal approach may be taken. While recognising that it may not always be appropriate, Situations recommends in most cases that employees take an informal approach as the first step to stopping the harassment. This is particularly the case where the inappropriate action or omission was a one-off and/or where the employee has reason to believe that the alleged perpetrator was suffering from stress, fatigue or illness or in some other respect not functioning normally.
If the employee feels they have been or are being subjected to unlawful discrimination and/or harassment and/or bullying and/or victimisation and they consider that the informal procedure is inappropriate, they should, if possible, advise the harasser/bully/victimiser that their behaviour is unwelcome, must be stopped and is interpreted by the complainant as discrimination and/or harassment and/or bullying and/or victimisation as defined by Situations' policy statement. If preferred, this may be in writing.
If the behaviour does not cease or the employee finds approaching the harasser difficult, further assistance is available. An employee who wishes to discuss such a complaint in confidence should contact one or more of the Directors of Situations. Alternatively, a complainant may move to the formal procedure.
Where the informal method fails, or serious unlawful harassment or discrimination occurs, or if the complainant prefers, they can bring a formal complaint against the alleged harasser or discriminator. The complaint should be made in writing and, where possible, should state the following:-
- the name of the alleged harasser/bully/discriminator/victimiser;
- the details of the harassment/bullying/discrimination/victimisation incident that was alleged;
- the date and time when the harassment/bullying/discrimination/victimisation occurred;
- the names of any witnesses to, or any other persons involved in, the harassment/bullying/ discrimination/victimisation; and
- details of any action which may already have been taken by the complainant to stop the harassment/bullying/discrimination/victimisation.
The complaint should be sent or given to one of the Directors of Situations. Where a complaint of unlawful harassment, bullying, discrimination or victimisation is received, consideration will be given to whether it would be helpful and/or practicable to separate the parties. This may involve a temporary transfer of the alleged harasser/discriminator or the complainant to another department or suspension with pay until the complaint has been resolved. This does not amount to a pre-determination of the matter.
The Director who received details of the complaint will carry out a thorough investigation of the allegations as quickly as possible, maintaining as much confidentiality as possible at all times. The complainant should be aware, however, that if the complaint is to be properly investigated, other employees might have to be asked for witness statements. If the complainant does not wish such steps to be taken, Situations may be unable to properly resolve and/or continue with the grievance.
All Directors and employees (including the complainant) involved in the investigation are expected to respect the need for confidentiality. Failure to do so will be considered a disciplinary offence.
The complainant will be invited to a hearing to discuss his/her complaint. Copies of witness statements taken may be made available to both parties. Witnesses will be encouraged to appear at any hearing if requested by either party. It is acknowledged that some witnesses may be reluctant to do so. In these circumstances, the manager chairing the grievance hearing will, if necessary, adjourn the hearing and ask supplementary questions of witnesses in private.
The complainant may, if she/he wishes, be supported throughout the procedure and hearing by a colleague of his/her choice. The employee accused of harassment or discrimination will also have the right to be accompanied at the hearing.
The complainant must make all reasonable efforts to attend the grievance hearing. If he/she fails to attend without proper excuse, Situations may proceed with the hearing in his/her absence and draw such inferences as are appropriate from the material in its possession and from their absence. The complainant should bring with him/her any witnesses to fact or documents he/she wishes Situations to take into account.
If the offence is proved and it is concluded that unlawful harassment/bullying/discrimination/ victimisation has occurred, remedial action will be taken and the severity of the penalty imposed on the harasser will be decided by the Directors. Serious harassment or bullying or acts of deliberate discrimination or victimisation may result in summary dismissal, and the harasser/bully/discriminator/ victimiser may be personably liable for payment of compensation to the person offended, in accordance with relevant laws in place at the time of the offence. Where a lesser penalty is appropriate, for example a written warning, this may be coupled with action to ensure, as far as practicable, that the complainant is able to continue working without embarrassment or anxiety.
After discussion with the complainant, Situations may transfer one party to a different work area, or arrange for an amendment of working practices to minimise contact. This may depend on whether the allegation made is upheld or not, and if so, whether in whole or part only. The result of the hearing will be confirmed in writing to both parties.
If the matter is not resolved to the complainant's satisfaction then he/she may appeal in writing to a Director or such person as Situations may decide is appropriate, who will arrange for an appropriate manager to conduct the appeal ("the appeal manager").
If the complainant wishes to appeal he/she must notify the appeal manager in writing within 5 working days of the decision complained about. The letter should indicate the full grounds upon which the appeal is made.
The conduct of the appeal shall be a matter for the appeal manager who may call such witnesses and consider such documents as he/she feels appropriate. The appeal manager may also adjourn the appeal to conduct any further enquiries that he/she believes may be necessary.
The complainant must make all reasonable efforts to attend the appeal hearing. If he/she fails to attend without proper excuse, Situations may proceed with the hearing in his/her absence and draw such inferences as are appropriate from the material in its possession and from his/her absence. The complainant should bring with him/her any witnesses to fact or documents he/she wishes Situations to take into account.
Situations will inform the complainant of its final decision after the appeal hearing. The decision made at the appeal will be final and there is no further right to appeal.
Employees will be protected from harassment, victimisation or discrimination for making a good faith complaint or assisting in an investigation. Any acts of retaliation or intimidation against an employee making or assisting such a complainant will be treated as a disciplinary offence.
An employee who maliciously makes or assists in an unfounded complaint will be subject to disciplinary action and may be dismissed.
Any acts of discrimination or acts that contravene this policy may result in disciplinary procedures being invoked against the employee responsible or involved. In severe cases, an employee may be dismissed without notice.
No policy of this sort can properly accommodate all possible circumstances and therefore this document should be seen as creating guidelines only and not contractual obligations on the part of Situations.