Chambers is committed to promoting equality of opportunity for all staff and job applicants. We aim to create a working environment in which all individuals are able to make best use of their skills, free from discrimination or harassment, and in which all decisions are based on merit.
We do not discriminate against staff on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation (“Protected Characteristics”).
The principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity also apply to the way in which members of staff treat visitors, clients, customers, suppliers and former members of staff.
All members of staff have a duty to act in accordance with this policy and treat colleagues with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate against or harass other members of staff, regardless of their status.
This policy does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and may be amended at any time.
Who is covered by the policy?
This policy covers all individuals working at all levels and grades, including consultants, contractors, trainees, homeworkers, part-time and fixed-term employees, interns, casual workers and agency staff (collectively referred to as staff in this policy).
Scope and purpose of the policy
This policy applies to all aspects of our relationship with staff and to relations between staff members at all levels. This includes job advertisements, recruitment and selection, training and development, opportunities for promotion, conditions of service, pay and benefits, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and termination of employment.
We will take appropriate steps to accommodate the requirements of different religions, cultures, and domestic responsibilities.
Forms of discrimination
Discrimination by or against an employee is generally prohibited unless there is a specific legal exemption. Discrimination may be direct or indirect and it may occur intentionally or unintentionally.
Direct discrimination occurs where someone is treated less favourably because of one or more of the Protected Characteristics set out above. For example, rejecting an applicant on the grounds of their race because they would not “fit in” would be direct discrimination.
Indirect discrimination occurs where someone is disadvantaged by an unjustified provision, criterion or practice that also puts other people with the same protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage. For example, a requirement to work full time puts women at a particular disadvantage because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement will need to be objectively justified.
Harassment related to any of the protected characteristics is prohibited. Harassment is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
Victimisation is also prohibited. This is less favourable treatment of someone who has complained or given information about discrimination or harassment, or supported someone else’s complaint.
Recruitment and selection
We aim to ensure that no job applicant suffers discrimination because of any of the protected characteristics above. Shortlisting of applicants should be done by more than one person wherever possible.
Job advertisements should avoid sterotyping or using wording that may discourage groups with a particular protected characteristic from applying.
Applicants should not be asked about health or disability before a job offer is made.
There are limited exceptions which should only be used with the Equality and Diversity Officer’s approval. For example:
- Questions necessary to establish if an applicant can perform an intrinsic part of the job (subject to any reasonable adjustments).
- Questions to establish if an applicant is fit to attend an assessment or any reasonable adjustments that may be needed at interview or assessment.
- Positive action to recruit disabled persons.
- Equal opportunities monitoring (which will not form part of the decision-making process).
Applicants should not be asked about past or current pregnancy or future intentions related to pregnancy. Applicants should not be asked about matters concerning age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or gender reassignment without the approval of the Equality and Diversity Officer (who should first consider whether such matters are relevant and may lawfully be taken into account).
We are required by law to ensure that all employees are entitled to work in the UK. Assumptions about immigration status should not be made based on appearance or apparent nationality. All prospective employees, regardless of nationality, must be able to produce original documents (such as a passport) before employment starts, to satisfy current immigration legislation. The list of acceptable documents is available from the UK Border Agency.
To ensure that this policy is operating effectively, and to identify groups that may be underrepresented or disadvantaged in our organisation, we may monitor applicants’ ethnic group, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age as part of the recruitment procedure. Provision of this information is voluntary and it will not adversely affect an individual’s chances of recruitment or any other decision related to their employment. The information is removed from applications before shortlisting, and kept in an anonymised format solely for the purposes stated in this policy. Analysing this data helps us take appropriate steps to avoid discrimination and improve equality and diversity.
Staff training and promotion and conditions of service
Staff training needs will be identified through regular staff appraisals. All staff will be given appropriate access to training to enable them to progress within the organisation and all promotion decisions will be made on the basis of merit.
Termination of employment
We will ensure that redundancy criteria and procedures are fair and objective and are not directly or indirectly discriminatory. We will also ensure that disciplinary procedures and penalties are applied without discrimination, whether they result in disciplinary warnings, dismissal or other disciplinary action.
If a member of staff is disabled or becomes disabled, we encourage them to tell us about their condition so that we can support them as appropriate. If a member of staff experiences difficulties at work because of their disability, they may wish to contact the Equality and Diversity Officer to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty.
The Equality and Diversity Officer may wish to consult with the member of staff and their medical adviser(s) about possible adjustments. We will consider the matter carefully and try to
accommodate a member of staff’s needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible.
Breaches of this policy
If a member of staff believes that they may have been discriminated against or that they may have been subject to harassment they are encouraged to raise the matter through our Grievance Procedure.
Allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the relevant procedure. Staff who make such allegations in good faith will not be victimised or treated less favourably as a result. False allegations which are found to have been made in bad faith will, however, be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.
Any member of staff who is found to have committed an act of discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action. Such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct and, as such, may result in summary dismissal. We take a strict approach to serious breaches of this policy.