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Importance of ensuring employment practices are free from discrimination and harassment

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

It is a legal and ethical requirement that all employment practices are free from discrimination and harassment. As a manager, it is important that you understand and are able to explain these responsibilities.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals based on nine protected characteristics; gender, age, race, religion or belief, disability, marital status, pregnancy or maternity, sexual orientation, and gender reassignment. This could be direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, discrimination arising from disability, discrimination by association or discrimination by perception. (In addition, you must ensure that you do not harass a job applicant, for example by making jokes about their religion. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides guidance to help employers adhere to equality law.

Employment Rights Act 1996

The Employment Rights Act 1996 sets out the statutory rights of employees. It is important that you have an understanding of this legislation so that you are able to treat employees fairly and ensure that their rights are not breached. Some of the areas covered by this law include:

  • Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
  • Contracts of employment
  • Payslips
  • Discrimination
  • Rest breaks
  • Time off
  • Maternity and paternity leave and antenatal care
  • Notice periods

Employees that have been with your organisation for certain periods of time (typically six months) can expect further privileges.

A great resource for free impartial information about the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

The Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out several freedoms and liberties that all individuals can expect.

For example, Article 11 is the right to freedom of association, including joining a trade union, so any attempts to prevent employees from unionising would breach this right. Article 8 (the right to privacy) could be breached if employers intercept employee phone calls or emails. In addition, Article 14 prohibits discrimination in the enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms set out in the act. Further information about the Human Rights Act can be found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s website.

Own policies and procedures

Your organisation’s internal policies and procedures should also ensure fairness and equality in the recruitment and selection process. Equality and diversity training should be available to all employees (the Care Certificate requires staff to have knowledge of their role) and they should also understand what behaviours are unacceptable. Processes should be in place for discrimination and harassment to be reported safely and sensitively.

Policies should also be in place to ensure diversity in the workplace. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development published a report in 2018 that provides statistical information about diversity and inclusion and some of the current barriers to equality. This can be used by policymakers to help ensure diversity amongst their workforce.

NOTE: The assessment criterion also specifies the importance of the Care Act 2014 for ensuring employment practices are free from discrimination and harassment, however, I am unable to find anything in the Care Act that relates to this. There are elements of equality for individuals receiving care but nothing about equality relating to employment or recruitment. If you can point out what I am missing, please let me know!