Equal Opportunities Policy
Purpose of Document
This policy helps the church leadership, membership, employees and job applicants understand the principles of WBC’s approach to diversity and equality.
1. Statement of Equal Opportunities Employment Policy
The Church is committed to the promotion of equality of opportunity in all fields of its activity in accordance with this Policy Statement.
2.1 “Personal Status” refers to sex, colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins, marital status, disability, age, religious belief or sexual orientation.
2.2 “Discrimination” is where a person is treated less favourably than another not on the merits of the case but on grounds of “Personal Status”
2.3 “Employee” includes students and trainees whether remunerated or not.
3. The Church's Policy Statement
The Church is an equal opportunities employer and will seek to ensure that:
3.1 wherever appropriate, all vacancies are advertised simultaneously internally and externally;
3.2 the most effective ways are employed to bring job vacancies to the attention of potentially disadvantaged groups;
3.3 recruitment, literature and advertisements does not imply that there is a preference for one group of applicants as against another unless there is a genuine occupational requirement which will be clearly stated;
3.4 applicants for posts are given clear, accurate and sufficient information through advertisement, job descriptions and interviews, to enable them to assess their own suitability for a post;
Selection and recruitment
3.5 wherever possible, more than one person must be involved in the selection interview and recruitment process, and all should be fully conversant with WBC’s Equal Opportunities Employment Policy;
3.6 wherever possible, a good representation of the relevant groups within the church are involved in the shortlisting and interviewing processes;
3.7 selection criteria (job description and employee specification) are kept under constant review to ensure that they are justifiable on non-discriminatory grounds as being essential for the effective performance of the job;
3.8 every applicant for a job and every employee is given equal opportunity whatever their Personal Status except in relation to religious belief where being a Christian or complying with a requirement related to religious belief is a genuine occupational requirement having regard to the ethos of the Church and the nature of the employment or the context in which it is carried out;
3.9 a criminal record is not in itself a bar to being appointed to any post. Only relevant offences are taken into account when appointing to a post where a Criminal Records Bureau check is required.
3.10 reasons for selection and rejection of applicants for vacancies are recorded;
3.11 all persons responsible for the selection, management and promotion of employees are given information and/or training to enable them to minimise the risk of discrimination
Training, promotion and conditions of service
3.12 the application of any recruitment, training and promotion policies are solely on the basis of job requirements and the individual's ability and fitness for that work;
3.13 appropriate training is provided to enable employees to perform their jobs effectively;
3.14 encouragement is given to all employees to take advantage of opportunities for training;
3.15 age limits for entry to training are not such as unnecessarily to exclude certain groups of employees;
3.16 persons already employed are made aware of the provisions of this policy;
3.17 employment policies and procedures are kept under review, in appropriate cases by formal monitoring routines, to ensure that they do not operate against the church's Policy Statement;
3.18 where it appears that the church's Policy Statement is not being observed the circumstances are investigated to see if there are any policies or criteria which exclude or discourage employees and, if so, whether these policies and criteria are justifiable;
3.19 appropriate action is taken where necessary to redress the effects of any action, policy or criteria which are found to have unjustifiably limited the observance of the church's Policy Statement;
3.20 all complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex, colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins, marital status, disability, age, religious belief or sexual orientation are fully investigated;
3.21 the cooperation of all employees is essential for the success of this policy. However, ultimate responsibility for achieving the policy's objectives, and for ensuring compliance with the relevant Acts of Parliament as well as the various Codes of Practice, lies with the Trustees of Woodford Baptist Church. Behaviour or actions against the spirit and/or the letter of the laws on which this policy is based will be considered serious disciplinary matters.
The guidance below is taken from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website, October 2011:
Genuine occupational requirements
It may be lawful for you as an employer to treat people differently when recruiting. In very limited circumstances, if you can show that someone with a particular protected characteristic (on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion/belief, sex or sexual orientation) is central to a particular job, then you can insist that only someone who has that particular protected characteristic is suitable for the job. This would be a genuine ‘occupational requirement’ (GOR). There is no definitive list of situations where a GOR will exist. It is therefore always best to take legal advice before advertising the job if you believe that there is a GOR.
If a discrimination claim is brought, the burden of proof is on the employer to prove there is a GOR. This will be strictly construed by a tribunal as it derogates from the usual principle of non-discrimination. In the case of organised religion GORs, the burden of proof is on the employer to show that they are a religious organisation.
You must decide whether a GOR exists before advertising the job. All roles in an organisation must be considered separately; if there is a GOR relating to one role, it will not necessarily apply to all roles within the organisation.
GORs should be reviewed each time the job becomes vacant, as circumstances may change. If only a few tasks require that the employee have a particular characteristic, you should consider whether duties could be reallocated so to other employees who do meet the requirement.
The Equality Act 2010, Part 1, Schedule 9 provides that direct discrimination on the basis of age is lawful where a characteristic relating to age is a genuine occupational requirement and it is proportionate to apply it in the particular case.
Examples: an actor playing character of a particular age; a catwalk model modeling a particular look however, choosing a younger employee because youth is more ‘commercially appealing’ is unlikely to be enough to satisfy the requirement.
The Equality Act 2010, Part 2, Chapter 2, Section 20 provides that there is no restriction on treating disabled people more favourably than non – disabled people. It is also permitted to take steps to meet the needs of people with a particular disability.
The Equality Act 2010, Part 1, Schedule 9 provides protection for transsexual people. Employers can impose a requirement that the protected requirement of an employee can apply to a person who proposes to, starts, undergoing or has completed a process to change their gender, provided that this is a genuine and determining occupational requirement and it is proportionate to apply it in the particular case. The Act no longer requires a person to be under medical supervision to be protected.
Example: a woman who decides to live as a man but does not undergo any medical procedures would be covered.
The Equality Act 2010, Part 1, Schedule 9 and Sections 39 and 40 provides that employers can impose a requirement that an employee must be of a particular racial group, provided that this is a genuine and determining occupational requirement and it is proportionate to apply it in the particular case.
Example: A GOR may exist where the position involves providing welfare services to people of a particular racial group, where services can most effectively be provided by a member of the same racial group due to their understanding of cultural needs and sensitivities.
The Equality Act 2010, Part 1, Schedule 9 provides that employers can apply religion/belief requirements where it is a genuine and determining occupational requirement that the employee hold a particular religion/belief and it is proportionate to apply the requirement in the particular case.
Other requirements relating to religion or belief
In addition to the general GOR, section 3 provides that: " person (A) with an ethos based on religion or belief does not contravene a provision mentioned in paragraph 1(2) by applying in relation to work a requirement to be of a particular religion or belief if A shows that, having regard to that ethos and to the nature or context of the work
a. it is an occupational requirement,
b. the application of the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and
c. the person to whom A applies the requirement does not meet it (or A has reasonable grounds for not being satisfied that the person meets it).
GORs have to be judged in relation to the specific job. So, if an organisation has a particular religious ethos this does not mean that all employees have to hold the beliefs of that religion. The GOR only applies if the duties of the particular job require it.
Examples: a minister of religion, however, other roles within a religious organisation, such as a secretary or church organist are less likely to be covered.
The Equality Act 2010, Part 1, Schedule 9 provides that direct discrimination on the basis of sex is not unlawful where there is a GOR. A GOR may exist for various reasons:
• if "the essential nature of the job would be materially different" if carried out by someone not of the required sex (eg an actor playing the role of the opposite sex)
• where it is necessary to preserve decency or privacy (eg a shop assistant providing a bra-fitting service or a prison officer carrying out body searches)
• if the employee is required to live in accommodation that is not equipped for people of that sex and it is not reasonable for the employer to make the necessary adjustments • if the job can most effectively be performed by a person of a particular sex
The Equality Act 2010, Part 1, Schedule 9 provides that a GOR may exist where being of a particular sexual orientation is a genuine and determining occupational requirement and it is proportionate to apply it in the particular case.
Examples: The general GOR may apply where:
• customers/service users are mainly of one sexual orientation (it is not sufficient if customers would simply prefer someone of a particular sexual orientation)
• the job requires understanding of a particular sexual orientation
• the job-holder will be a public face or role model for an organisation which campaigns on behalf of people who have a particular sexual orientation
• the majority of tasks require the job-holder to be of a particular sexual orientation; it would not be sufficient if only a few tasks require this
Organised religion GOR
In addition to the general GOR, if the employment is for the purposes of organised religion, the employer can apply a sexual orientation requirement, either:
• "so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion", or
• "because of the nature of the employment and the context in which it is carried out, so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers