Equal Opportunities Policy
Equal opportunity can be attained only through an acceptance by our directors and staff that full utilisation of their talents and resources is important not only in their own interests but in the interests of LUNA Students Ltd (“The Company”) as a whole. An effective equal opportunities policy will enable the Company to ensure that there is no unlawful direct or indirect discrimination, as well as allowing it to develop good employment practices in respect of all its people.
The Company is fully committed to providing opportunities for directors and staff and encouraging non-discriminatory behaviour in all dealings with colleagues, potential employees, clients, suppliers and all other individuals and organisations with which the Company and its people deal in the course of business. The Company aims at positive measures to eliminate not only overt acts of discrimination but also provisions or requirements and practices which are discriminatory in nature.
This policy deals with the Company’s approach to equal opportunities and covers discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation. It is intended to provide a basis for the avoidance of discrimination in the Company’s employment and other practices, particularly in the areas of sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, gender, gender reassignment, religion/belief, marital status/civil partnership, disability, pregnancy/maternity or age. People are the Company’s most valuable asset and play a central role in achieving the Company’s objectives. To support individuals in this role we shall:
- take all reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure that employees are recruited, trained and promoted on the basis of ability and requirements of the job.
- encourage staff to develop their full potential and provide appropriate training to enable them to do so.
- develop and improve communication so that staff will be able to see a clear link between their efforts and the achievement of the Company’s objectives.
- regularly seek the views and encourage ideas from staff which will improve the Company’s effectiveness and efficiency.
- provide a healthier, safer and enriching environment in which to
The Company recognises its obligations under the relevant current legislation, including the Sex Discrimination Acts, the Race Relations Acts, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations, the Equal Pay Act and the Equality Act. It also endorses the Codes of Practice issued by the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Dignity at work
The Company values greatly its staff and clients and regards any form of discrimination, harassment or bullying as completely unacceptable. The Company expects everyone, irrespective of position, to comply in every respect with this policy at all times during the course of employment and business and at social events arranged by or under the auspices of the Company.
LUNA Students Limited responsibility
The Company has an obligation to ensure that it and its employees do not discriminate on the grounds described in the introduction above. The ACAS Codes of Practice state: “Management should not merely avoid such discrimination; it should develop positive policies to promote equal opportunities in employment”.
The Company, as an employer, is responsible for the actions of its employees if they act in any way contrary to the tenets of this policy. The responsibility for providing equality of opportunity rests primarily with the Company. This can best be met by an equal opportunity policy which is effectively monitored to ensure that there is no unlawful or unreasonable discrimination, and that equal opportunity is genuinely available (see below for monitoring details).
The responsibility of individual employees and managers
Whilst overall responsibility for ensuring there is no unlawful or unreasonable discrimination at work rests mainly with the Company, individual directors and employees at all levels also have certain responsibilities. Good employee relations and practices depend on employees as well as management, and so their attitudes and activities are of crucial importance. They have duties to their employer, to their colleagues and to the Company’s clients and suppliers. In particular individual directors and employees should:
- co-operate with measures introduced to ensure quality opportunity and non-discrimination.
- not themselves discriminate contrary to the law, this policy and human rights.
- not induce, attempt to induce or instruct other employees or management to practise unlawful and/or unreasonable discrimination.
- not victimise or attempt to victimise individuals in any way and, more particularly, on the grounds that they have made complaints or provided information on discrimination.
- not harass (including sexual or racial harassment or harassment on the grounds of age), abuse or intimidate other employees or directors, nor any of the Company’s clients, business contacts or suppliers.
- inform management if they suspect that discrimination is taking place in employment.
Managers and supervisors
In particular should:
- make clear to employees the law and the Company’s policy on equal opportunities.
- ensure the principles in this policy are implemented at all times and to correct individuals under their control who breach these principles, implementing sanctions for anyone continuing to breach these principles.
- where an individual not under their control acts in contravention of this policy, report that individual’s conduct to their respective line manager/supervisor in order that the breach may be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
- support and encourage employees in their work in a non-discriminatory manner.
- treat all employees fairly and with respect, to listen to and give due consideration of their views and the views of anyone speaking or acting on their behalf.
- where discipline must be applied, do so fairly, consistently and in accordance with natural justice and the Company s Disciplinary policy.
- be proactive in watching for any breach of this policy and to take action appropriate in the circumstances should such a breach be apparent.
Promoting a positive environment
It is the Company’s policy that no directors, member of staff, potential employee, client or other person having dealings with it shall receive less favourable treatment:
- on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or marital status.
- on the grounds of race, skin colouration, nationality, ethnicity, cultural identity, national origin or religion.
- on the grounds of age
- on the grounds of physical or mental impairment as defined by the disability legislation and relevant codes of practice.
- by reason of being HIV positive or having AIDS.
- by reason of pregnancy or having recently given birth.
- by applying an unjustifiable age barrier.
- by having conditions, requirements or practices imposed on them which cannot be shown to be.
Wherever possible and in all areas of its business, the Company will promote an environment of respect and encouragement to enable all directors and staff to achieve their full potential. The aim of the Company also is to promote regard for clients and others having dealings with the Company so that they can be assured of treatment of the highest degree of quality, respect and fairness.
“Equal Opportunities” – What does it mean?
Equal opportunity means not treating people differently because of a characteristic personal to them. It protects the rights of every worker, every potential employee, every client and other business contact to be treated fairly and consistently.
If we need to highlight differences between people (e.g., at recruitment, promotion or appraisal) then this must be done purely on the basis of objective criteria which are relevant to the needs and aims of the exercise being carried out. These criteria must be applied consistently and fairly.
What does discrimination mean?
Discrimination occurs when a subjective judgment or decision about a person is made on the basis of the differences which can be seen or are assumed to be present.
In sex and race legislation, discrimination can be direct or indirect. Under the disability legislation discrimination can occur if a disabled person is treated less favourably without justification and there is a failure to make reasonable adjustments without justification.
When discrimination occurs without the benefit of relevant, objective information the resulting decision may reflect the prejudices held by the decision-maker. Recruiters and line managers in particular, but also everyone associated with the Company, should be aware that discrimination can occur at any time within, and external to, the employment relationship. So, for example, a claim of discrimination could be made at any time during the recruitment process and in dealings with clients and suppliers.
Direct and indirect discrimination
The following information is provided by way of example and is not comprehensive.
Direct discrimination: where a person is treated less favourably than another purely on the grounds of, for example, sex, gender reassignment, race, age or disability. Examples are, if someone is refused promotion on the grounds that s/he is black, disabled or pregnant, or deliberately harassing a person because of their nationality.
Under disability legislation, an employer discriminates against a disabled person if they treat a disabled person less favourably for a reason which is related to that person’s disability.
Discrimination in this context means less favourable treatment for a reason related to a person’s disability compared to another person where that reason did not or would not apply. The comparison does not have to be between a disabled and an able-bodied person; it could also be with a person with a different disability.
Indirect discrimination: in general terms, means imposing a provision, criteria or practice on everyone, but:
- the proportion of one sex or people from one racial group or one age group that can comply with the rule is considerably smaller than the proportion of the other sex or people from another racial group or age group who can comply with it; and
- an individual is disadvantaged because s/he cannot comply with the rule; and
- the rule cannot be shown to be justifiable irrespective of race or sex or in the case of age if it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate
In the case of indirect sex discrimination (in employment and vocational training), this definition has been widened to include the application of a provision, criterion or practice, which may have a disproportionate effect on men or women. Examples of indirect discrimination are a height restriction in a job advertisement which is not necessary to do the job; an insistence that employees must not have beards where there is no objective job related reason for the rule; a requirement which is non-essential to a job description which may exclude a disabled person (such as the requirement for a driving licence for a position which is wholly office based); reliance on recruiting by the current employees who pass on vacancies via their family or friends.
Failure to make reasonable adjustments, where it is reasonable to make adjustments to the working environment, working arrangements or working conditions to help a disabled person overcome the practical effects of their disability. The duty applies also where any arrangement made or any physical feature of the premises, place a disabled employee, job applicant or other visitor to the Company’s premises at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability.
Policy statement on disability
The Company’s aim is to service its customers’ needs efficiently and professionally. The Company therefore strives to ensure that no customer, supplier or visitor is denied access to its services or facilities simply because of their disability.
The Company seeks to ensure any special needs that our customers, suppliers and visitors have are taken into account to ensure that they receive access to the services it offers and have to access its offices as appropriate; The Company is committed to ensuring that when customers, suppliers and visitors visit its offices their needs and requirements are dealt with equality, dignity and respect.
Customers, suppliers and visitors should not be disadvantaged from other customers, suppliers or visitors because of their disability and are welcomed as equals to able-bodied visitors and customers and suppliers of the Company.
This is an often-misunderstood area of the law and is frequently confused with positive discrimination which is unlawful. Positive action is permitted by law, and may be taken by the Company, under certain circumstances and allows employers to give groups of employees of one sex or particular racial group either:
- access to training for particular work or
- encouragement to take advantage of the opportunities for doing that work, such as single sex or ethnic minority training.
In disability legislation, generally, employers are not prevented from advertising posts as open only to disabled candidates and application from disabled people can be encouraged.
Vacancies within the Company are advertised concurrently internally and externally to enable all suitably qualified individuals to apply. Appointments and promotion within the Company are based solely on merit.
The Company will take steps to ensure that applications are attracted from both sexes and all races and ages and from disabled people and will ensure that there are equal opportunities in all stages of the recruitment process. Where appropriate, staff responsible for recruitment will receive training in equal opportunities and guidance will be available to all staff.
The Company endeavours to ensure that there are no signs that:
- prejudices about sex, origin, age, disability or sexual orientation are influencing decisions.
- indirect discrimination is having an adverse impact on women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities or older.
What does harassment and bullying mean?
Harassment is generally defined as conduct which is unreasonable, unwelcome and offensive, and which creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating working environment. It is the person who is subjected to, or the recipient of, the behaviour who determines whether this behaviour is harassing or not.
Harassment is a type of discrimination and may take different forms. It can be either deliberate or unintentional and is either sexual, racial or on grounds of age. Harassment is not referred to as a separate issue under disability legislation but harassing a disabled person on account of disability will almost always amount to a detriment under the disability discrimination legislation.
Whether the action was intended to cause offence or not does not matter. If the individual being subjected to the behaviour finds it unacceptable and s/he feels damaged or harmed by it, this constitutes potential harassment.
Harassment is normally characterised by more than one incident of unacceptable behaviour but in some circumstances just one instance may constitute harassment if it is sufficiently serious.
Whatever form it takes and irrespective of the duration, it is completely unacceptable, and perpetrators will be subject to the Company’s disciplinary procedures and appropriate sanction. Intentional harassment is a criminal offence and other forms of harassment may amount to unlawful assault giving rise to possible civil and criminal liability. Proven criminal liability is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
Bullying is any persistent behaviour, directed against an individual, which is intimidating, offensive, malicious or insulting and which undermines the confidence and self-esteem of the recipient, making them feel threatened, humiliated or vulnerable. Bullying is largely identified not so much by what has actually been done but rather by the effect that it has on its target.
What bullying is not: objective, legitimate, constructive and fair criticism of an employee’s performance or behaviour at work is not bullying. An occasional raised voice or argument is not bullying.
Bullying can be face-to-face and can include:
- verbal or physical threats and intimidation
- persistent negative comments
- humiliating someone in front of others
- belittling someone’s opinion.
- unjustified, persistent criticism
- offensive or abusive personal remarks
- making false allegations
or it can occur by email, known as ‘flaming’ or ‘flame mails’. Other examples of unacceptable conduct are: –
- Verbal abuse, or insulting behaviour
- Sexist or racist jokes, jokes about an individual’s sexual orientation or age or jokes about an individual’s physical or mental attributes
- The dissemination or circulation of sexually suggestive or racially abusive material or material
- Bullying, coercive or threatening behaviour
- The ridicule or exclusion of an individual for cultural or religious differences, on the grounds of sex or sexual orientation or on the grounds of disability or on the grounds of age
- Unsolicited or unwelcome sexual advances, including touching, staring or commenting.
- Comments of a sexual nature about a person’s appearance or dress
Whatever form it takes, bullying is not an effective way of dealing with people and is completely unacceptable. Perpetrators will be subject to the Company’s disciplinary procedures and appropriate sanction.
What is victimisation?
Victimisation occurs when anyone is treated differently as a result of them exercising their rights under the Company’s policies and/or the law. This might be when they have raised a grievance or have made a complaint about their colleague, manager or the Company.
Employees are protected from victimisation whether a complaint is made using the internal complaints procedure or through a tribunal. Individuals are protected against victimisation even if the allegation fails, provided it is made in good faith. However, a person making a false allegation which is not made in good faith (i.e., malicious or untruthful) is not protected.
Breach of this policy
Ignoring this policy could put the Company at risk of legal action and damage its reputation. The Company will not tolerate any breach of its policy on equal opportunities and will take disciplinary action against offenders. Staff and directors are reminded that unlawful discrimination can lead to criminal and civil proceedings being taken directly against them.
Grievance and disciplinary procedures
Any alleged breach of this policy may be dealt with in accordance with the Company’s disciplinary or grievance procedures as appropriate. Enquiries will be made into suspected cases of discrimination, harassment or bullying. If there are reasonable grounds to suspect that there has been an infringement of this policy, steps will be taken for this to be stopped at once. In such cases disciplinary action may be taken against suspected perpetrators. Serious breaches of this policy and/or the law, may lead to dismissal and, where appropriate, notification to the police. In appropriate circumstances, special guidance and training will also be given to avert further cases of discrimination.
Where an infringement of this policy is complained of, the affected person should report the incident or incidents in accordance with the Company’s Grievance Policy’s reporting procedure.
Similarly, where a client, supplier or other business contact complains that they have been dealt with in a manner inconsistent with the provisions of this policy, that individual should report their complaint either to the relevant Director or to the HR Director.
Success of this policy
Whilst the Company is fully committed to eliminating all barriers to equal opportunities throughout the Company, line managers and supervisors are reminded that they too have day- to-day responsibility for ensuring compliance with the terms and aims of this policy. However, the commitment of all employees and everyone associated with the Company is essential to make this policy a success. Everyone has a part to play.
Action, monitoring and review
Review of policies and procedures: The HR function will review and, if necessary, revise existing policies and procedures to ensure that equal opportunities are available to all and compliance with this developing area of law is maintained. Where it is found that they are operating or could operate against equality of opportunity, they will be amended.
Victimisation: guidance will be given to all directors and staff on the law against victimising individuals who have made complaints of discrimination or provided with information about such discrimination.
Training: training will be arranged to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, all directors and staff understand and are proactive to the principles and operation of this policy. Particular attention will be paid to recruitment and selection training.
Review of this policy: The Company reserves the right to vary any of the terms, conditions and procedures set out in this policy.
Monitoring: The Company monitors the ethnic, ages and sexual composition of its existing directors and staff, and of the number of disabled people (when known) within these groups. It is important that the Company is made aware of all disabled people within the Company and anyone who is disabled is encouraged to notify the HR Director accordingly. No one should be afraid to do so. Details will be kept confidential, and the information collected solely for the purpose of ensuring their continued safety, enabling the Company to comply with good practice, required legislation and monitoring procedures.
This policy will be reviewed in accordance with the results shown by the monitoring. If changes are required, the Company will implement them.