ensure the harassment policy includes specific reference to sexual orientation

Ensure the harassment policy includes specific

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ensure the harassment policy includes specific reference to sexual orientation. The Act also outlaws discrimination by trade unions and applies to how UNISON delivers services. Exceptions A post may be restricted to people of a certain sexual orientation where the job genuinely requires that the person employed is or is not of a particular sexual orientation, and applying this requirement is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. There are very few jobs where being of a particular sexual orientation is essential to doing that job. Such an occupational requirement must be identified at the beginning of the recruitment process and clearly stated in recruitment materials. Occupational requirements are always open to challenge and it is up to Bargaining support group e-mail: [email protected] LGBT group e-mail: [email protected] 4
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L e s b i a n , g ay a n d b i s e x u a l w o r ke r s r i g h t s – M ay 2 0 1 3 the employer to prove why it is necessary and justified in this case. Only an employment tribunal (or higher court) can give an authoritative ruling on whether it is valid. The Act allows employers who choose to, to take positive action to make their workforce better reflect the community they serve. This might be offering training to particular groups or encouraging people to take up opportunities. Positive action can also be used in the appointment or promotion process as a tie-breaker between candidates of equal merit. The employer must show this is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Public sector equality duty Public bodies in England, Scotland and Wales have a statutory duty to give due regard to eliminating sexual orientation discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between people of different sexual orientations. A similar duty has been in force in Northern Ireland since 2000. Having due regard means consciously thinking about the three equality duty aims as part of the decision-making process, such as employment, service delivery and financial decisions. This includes decisions on cuts and redundancies. Complying with the duty may involve treating some people better than others to combat historic disadvantage. Specific duties underpin the general duty, showing how public bodies can meet the general duty. These are different in England, Scotland and Wales, with those for England being less detailed or prescriptive than those for Scotland and Wales. However, whatever the specific duties, the general duty remains the same. Public bodies can only demonstrate that they are complying with the general duty by taking steps such as assessing the impact on equality of their policies and practices. UNISON’s detailed advice on the public sector equality duty is stock number 3062 and is available to download from unison.org.uk/equality.
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