Newport City Council

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES

POLICY

LEA Agreed Policy - March 2002 to Present

CONTENTS

SECTION ONE: THE POLICY

 

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Policy Statement

1.3 Policy Aims

 

SECTION TWO: AMPLIFYING THE POLICY

 

2.1 Providing Effective and Accessible Services

2.2 Providing Equal Opportunities in Recruitment and Employment

2.3 Working in Partnerships with all Sections of the Community

 

SECTION THREE: KEY ISSUES

 

Discrimination and Key Issues for Different Groups within the Community:

 

3.1 Age

3.2 Disability

3.3 Race

3.4 Sexuality

3.5 Religions and Faith

3.6 Gender

3.7 Welsh Language

 

SECTION FOUR

 

Legislation

 

SECTION FIVE

 

Implementation

 

SECTION SIX

 

Responsibilities

 

1 THE POLICY

 

1.1  INTRODUCTION

 

Good equalities practice benefits everyone.  The Council acknowledges that the quality of life for many people has been eroded by disadvantage and discrimination, and that experience of this is both wide and varied.

 

People are still discriminated against because of their ethnic origin, gender, disability, age, religion or sexuality.  The Council also recognises that some people suffer discrimination due to ill health, social exclusion and other socio-economic factors.

 

The Council's purpose for this policy is to work towards bringing discrimination to an end and to improve the quality of life for everyone living within the City.

 

1.2  POLICY STATEMENT

 

Newport City Council welcomes the breadth and diversity of tradition, belief and culture of its communities.  It seeks to create, maintain and promote a City in which each person has an equal entitlement and access to high quality opportunities and services irrespective of race, religion, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or social class or origin.

 

The Council is opposed to discrimination, whether intended or unintended, in all its forms.  It is committed, therefore, to:

  • Promoting and understanding the principles and practices of equality and justice
  • Identifying and removing practices and procedures which may result in direct or indirect discrimination
  • Providing equal access to appropriate resources and opportunities throughout its services
  • Encouraging active participation and involvement in decisions about priorities for all members of the community
  • Ensuring that recruitment, employment, promotion and training systems provide equality of access throughout
  • Securing compliance with all relevant legislation
  • Recognising that individuals' needs vary and that a flexible approach is required to ensure full participation and access to all it services
  • Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of its policies and making changes and corrections where necessary

 

The City Council expects all its employees and services to commit themselves to challenge and combat discrimination in all its forms.  Each service is expected to develop and implement its own detailed policies and action plan on equal opportunities to give effect to the above principles and to deliver the Authority's policy aims.

 

The priority of the council is to protect and promote the rights and interests of individuals and communities. Where there are conflicts of interest the Council will make judgements according to existing laws and policies.

1.3  POLICY AIMS

 

The Council is committed to providing:

  • Appropriate, effective and accessible services to all sections of the community
  • Equal opportunities in recruitment and employment
  • Effective partnerships with all sections of the community

 

The Council will achieve these aims by:

  • Putting equalities at the heart of Council policy and service delivery
  • Challenging discrimination
  • Including all sections of the community in decision-making
  • Ensuring that commitment to equalities is an ongoing process
  • Adopting the social model of disability
  • Consulting with the Council's Trades Unions

 

2  AMPLIFYING THE POLICY

 

A COMMITMENT TO EQUALITIES

 

2.1  Providing Effective and Accessible Services

 

The Council aims to:

  • Progressively achieve all levels of the Generic Equalities Standard for Local Government
  • Obtain a clear and comprehensive profile of the population it serves
  • Keep under review its services to ensure they meet the differing needs of individuals and groups
  • Provide clear information about the Council and its services in ways that are accessible to meet individuals' and communities' needs
  • Work in partnership and actively seek the views of the community on service needs and delivery and provide clear feedback to consultees on outcomes
  • Scrutinise and monitor services to make sure that they do not discriminate
  • Ensure equal access to the Council's complaints procedure
  • Make the local authority's position on equality clear to all service users and to organisations who have contracts with the Council or who are seeking contracts

 

 

2.2  Providing Equal Opportunities in Recruitment and Employment

 

The Council aims to:

  • Become a model employer in terms of good practice on equal opportunities in the workplace
  • Employ a workforce that represents the diversity of the City's population and in doing so serve the community more effectively
  • Monitor the recruitment and selection process to ensure that applicants for jobs are considered only on the basis of relevant experience, qualifications, skills and abilities
  • Review and monitor all Human Resources policies and procedures to ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination
  • Provide a safe and accessible working environment which values and respects employees' identities and cultures
  • Help and encourage employees to reach their full potential through a variety of means including post entry training
  • Provide the positive action allowed under the law to help to redress employment imbalances
  • Maintain full involvement of the Council's Trades Unions in achieving these aims.

 

2.3  Working in Partnerships with all Sections of the Community

 

The Council aims to:

  • Listen and respond to communities' views
  • Provide opportunities for consultation and dialogue with community groups
  • Encourage and support people to be active in community life
  • Celebrate the variety of lifestyles and cultures in the City
  • Work with others to provide an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence
  • Capacity build support and encourage the voluntary sector and other partners to become more involved in the work of the Authority

 

3  KEY ISSUES FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS

 

Discrimination can be direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional. 

 

Discrimination can be perpetrated by individuals, groups or institutions. At an individual level, discrimination is based on personal attitudes of superiority; at a group level, shared behaviour serves to reinforce discrimination; at an institutional level, prejudice becomes embedded in policy and procedure with the effect of excluding some people in favour of others.

 

At all levels, discrimination caused by unfair treatment and unequal distribution of opportunities and resources deprives people of a good quality of life and serves to reinforce a cycle of multi-faceted disadvantage.

 

3.1.      Age Discrimination - negative assumptions based on a person's age, which can affect both young and older people, particularly when they apply for jobs

.

The Council is committed to:

  • A recruitment and employment policy that does not take age into consideration until normal retirement age either in recruitment, promotion or training

 

  • Eliminating reference to age in recruitment material unless it is specifically relevant to the job

 

  • Having in place a complaints procedure which takes into account age discrimination in service delivery

 

 

•3.2.1      Disability Discrimination - this occurs when Disabled people are faced with barriers to their full participation in Society e.g. lack of access, negative attitudes, lack of support systems.  Underlying this is a lot of negative stereotyping over what disabled people can and cannot do. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 makes it unlawful for employers to treat Disabled people less favourably than others. NCC undertakes to be proactive in countering this form of discrimination and promoting a positive attitude towards providing opportunities and services for people with disabilities.

The Council is committed to:

 

  • Ensuring that council employees are aware of good practice when providing services or working with disabled people and have a clear understanding or their duties and responsibilities under the law

 

  • Establishing recruitment practices that encourage applications from and employment of disabled people by taking positive action measures such as the Guaranteed Interview Scheme

 

  • Ensuring that terms and conditions of employment do not disadvantage people with disabilities

 

  • Ensure that the working environment does not prevent disabled people from taking up positions for which they are qualified by providing appropriate facilities, support and training to employees who have impairments, or who develop impairments while working for the Council.

 

  • Taking positive steps to ensure that disabled people have fair access to promotion.

 

  • Consulting disabled people on the development of council services and practices and ensuring that disabled people are not disadvantaged in that consultation processes.

 

  • Working with partners and organisations such as disabled peoples organisations, Disability Wales/Anabledd Cymru, voluntary organisations, statutory organisations (WLGA & LGA) to promote best practice in inclusion and support the rights of disabled people to fully participate in society.

 

  • Working to improve access to buildings and facilities for disabled people by employing technical or human aids where appropriate and making physical adjustments where possible.

3.3       Racial Discrimination - the belief that one culture and set of values is superior to another, leading to prejudice on nationality, ethnic, origin, colour and culture. The Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 places a general duty on all public bodies for eliminating all forms of racial discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity promoting good race relations between people of different racial groups

 

The Council is committed to:

 

  • Training employees at all levels to enable them to recognise and challenge all forms of racial discrimination and to raise cultural awareness.

 

  • Addressing the under-representation of minority ethnic people in the workforce by taking specific steps to encourage people from minority ethnic communities to apply for jobs including using such positive action measures as allowed under the Race Relations Act 1976

 

  • Ensuring that work practices and policies do not alienate or disadvantage employees from minority ethnic communities or prevent them from having fair and equal access to jobs, promotion and training

 

  • Taking decisive action to address incidents of victimisation or harassment in relation to any aspect of the councils activities

 

  • Developing and supporting campaigns for minority ethnic rights by capacity building minority ethnic communities and voluntary organisations

 

  • Consulting with minority ethnic communities and employees in order to promote awareness of their needs and views in the development and delivery of Council services, policies and practices.

 

  • Recognising and valuing minority community languages and the need to provide services and information which takes account of them

 

* The Council adopts the MacPherson definitions of racism and institutional racism:

Racism in general terms consists of conduct or words or practices which advantage or disadvantage people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.  In its most subtle form it is as damaging as in its overt form

Institutional Racism consists of the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.  It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.

3.4       Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexuality or Sexual Identity -  negative attitudes and prejudices based on the belief that heterosexuality is the norm. The Human Rights Act 1988 Article 8 includes the right to ones sexuality

 

The Council is committed to

 

  • Creating a positive working environment in which lesbian and gay employees have fair and equal access to jobs, promotion and training

 

  • Training employees in order to ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination and harassment and that lesbians and gay men in the City Council are not discriminated against in their access to services.

 

3.5       Discrimination on the Grounds of Religion and Faith - negative perceptions based on the view that one set of beliefs is superior to another. The right to hold and practice religious faith is enshrined within the Human Rights Act 1988 Article 9

 

The Council is committed to:

  • Respecting each person's religious beliefs.

 

  • Taking account of religious festivals and practices when planning and organising events or services or developing policies.

 

  • Ensuring that work and service delivery practices or requirements do not unreasonably disadvantage people from any particular religious group

 

  • Treating discrimination on the ground of religion with the same force as all other forms of discrimination

            Sex Discrimination - prejudiced attitudes that suggest that one gender, usually women, lack certain skills, abilities and characteristics that the other gender possesses

 

The Council is committed to:

  • Ensuring recruitment and working practices do not disproportionately disadvantage either gender in gaining fair and equal access to jobs, promotion and training

 

  • Taking positive action measure as allowed under the Sex Discrimination Act to achieve fair representation of women and men within the Council at every level by, for example, encouraging application for jobs in areas where one gender is under-represented

 

  • Keeping under review pay and conditions of service to ensure the principle of equal pay for equal work is fully adhered to by the Council

 

  • Developing work practices that ensure that the needs of employees who have child care and dependant care responsibilities are taken account of

 

  • Supporting employees taking maternity or paternity leave or time off to care for children or other dependants.

 

  • Training employees to raise awareness of their statutory obligations and ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination and harassment and acting promptly if any such incidents occur.

 

•3.7  Welsh Language - Although Welsh is a minority language in Newport the council recognises the right of Welsh people to conduct their business with the council through the medium of Welsh. The responsibilities set out in the Welsh Language Act 1993 and the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages protect and preserve that right.

 

In order to fulfil its responsibilities the Council is committed to  

 

  • Offering the public in Newport the right to choose which language to use when dealing with the Council

 

  • Enabling each department to provide appropriate services for Welsh speakers

 

  • Ensuring that those who choose to communicate in the Welsh language do not receive less favourable treatment than those using English

4  LEGISLATION

 

The Council will comply with all anti-discriminatory legislation including:

 

  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (updated 1986)

 

  • The Equal Pay Act 1970 (updated 1983)

 

  • The Race Relations Act 1976 (amended 2000)

 

  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

 

  • Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999

 

  • The Crime and Disorder of Offenders Act 1974

 

  • The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

 

  • The Human Rights Act 1998

 

  • European directives and regulations

 

  • The Welsh Language Act 1993

 

The Council recognises that legal obligations in relation to discrimination may overlap between different groups, and that some groups do not benefit from legislative protection.  The Council will ensure good practice towards all groups through this policy.

 

5  IMPLEMENTATION

 

The Council's approach to implementing its equal opportunities policy is to ensure that equality issues are central in all service planning and delivery.  Each of the Council's service groups have an equality action plan which has been developed, and committed to, by the relevant Chief Officer and service management team.  In addition, a separate action plan relates to employment issues.   Each of the services will incorporate the relevant elements of the action plans within the annual service plan.

 

Action Plans and Service Plans will specifically consider whether the uptake and quality of services meet the diverse needs of the residents of Newport. Positive measures will be used, including performance indicators and targets, where shortfalls are identified.  Service Areas will include equalities performance measures and monitoring reports in their individual service plans.   The relevant Strategic Director supported by the Council's Equalities Officer will monitor both the setting of the targets and the progress in their achievement.

 

The Equal Opportunities Policy will be integral to other Council strategies and polices, including the Best Value Performance Plan, Corporate Plan and Community Strategy.

 

An overall Corporate Equality Plan, incorporating specific issue based schemes e.g. The Race Equality Scheme and Welsh Language Scheme, will be devised and updated every three years. This will include plans for standardised procedures for ethnic, gender and disability monitoring, public consultation and staff training programmes. It will also designate personnel who take lead roles for inclusion and equality from in each service area.

 

The Council has committed resources to developing its equalities strategy by employing a dedicated Equalities Officer. Initiatives for specific Positive Action Schemes will take account of any available funding from National and European sources as well as partnerships with other sectors. Community and economic development schemes such as Sure Start, Communities First, etc will include elements for promoting equality and inclusion. Future expenditure on promoting equality will be identified in the Corporate Equality Plans

 

In terms of employment, the Council has a comprehensive recruitment policy, which complies with equal opportunity requirements.  The Council will ensure that its recruitment policy is observed and fully implemented.

 

A key aim is for the Council and its workforce to reflect the community it serves. Therefore, regular monitoring will take place to assess the composition of applicants and existing employees with regard to ethnicity, gender, disability, language and age. 

 

The Council will also review and evaluate other Human Resources policies, including the Harassment Policy, to ensure effective implementation.

 

The Council will ensure that staff are made aware of the equalities issues as part of their induction and that equalities issues are included in all relevant post entry training courses.

 

This policy will be distributed to all employees and all short-listed applicants for posts.

 

Access

 

Access will be interpreted widely, from physical access to Council buildings, centres etc, to the ability to gain information in different forms e.g. different community languages, Braille etc.

 

All the people of Newport should enjoy full access to housing, transport, education, public facilities and services and employment, but we recognise that not all have the same access in practice.  People identified within the scope of this policy and those who are socially excluded due to factors such as poverty or homelessness can experience problems in accessing information and services.     

 

One particular category of access is concerned with physical access to the buildings.  The Council is committed to improving the environment and premises that it controls and to making these accessible to disabled people. 

 

Council buildings will therefore be audited to check on their levels of accessibility to disabled people, whether they are members of the public or Council employees.  The Council will include in its capital programme funding to adapt its present buildings on a rolling programme to enable greater accessibility for users and staff who have a disability.  It will also require specifications for new Council buildings to take account of the need to ensure disabled access.

 

Our plans are not exclusively concerned with wheelchair users; they also include others with limited mobility, hearing and sight impairments, learning difficulties and mental health problems, as well as "hidden" disabilities such as arthritis and epilepsy.

 

The Council is committed to celebrating the diversity of the communities, which it serves.  It will seek each year opportunities to arrange or support events, which reflect the diverse traditions and strengths of Newport's various communities.

 

The Council will make full use of its powers as a Planning and Highway Authority, to ensure the environment of the City is accessible to all people.

 

 

6  RESPONSIBILITIES

 

The elected members of Newport City Council are responsible for determining the equalities policy and overseeing its implementation.  It is the members' responsibility to provide overall direction and leadership for the policy and to monitor its outcomes, ensuring that the organisation and its services comply with the Council's policy.   This they will do through the relevant Cabinet Member and Scrutiny Forum, each of whom will receive regular reports on progress within the service which comes within their oversight.

 

The Managing Director, Strategic Directors and Heads of Service are responsible for delivering the policy and are accountable for its implementation.   The Strategic Directors Team will review progress on a twice-yearly basis and each Service Management Team will regularly review the progress of that service toward its targets.  Each Service Head will be responsible for including equalities actions and targets within their service plans and for the implementation of both the Policy and the agreed action plans within that area.  It will be the responsibility of the corporate Equalities Officer both to advise Heads of Service and to keep an overview of progress across the Council and to report on this to the Directors Team.

 

Organisations which are grant aided, which enter into contracts or which otherwise work with the Council will be made aware of and be expected to respect the Council's equalities policy commitments.

 

All managers and supervisors have a responsibility for familiarising themselves with the policy, for ensuring that it is distributed to, and understood by, all employees and for dealing appropriately with any breaches of it.  Managers are also responsible for ensuring that they promote equal opportunities in their planning and implementation of service delivery at business unit and other organisational levels.

 

Every employee is responsible for putting this policy in place and for mainstreaming its provisions.  Breaches of the policy will be dealt with under the Council's Disciplinary Grievance and Bullying and Harassment procedures as appropriate.