Equality and dignity at work

Our commitment

The company is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to avoiding unlawful discrimination in employment and against customers.

The law

It is unlawful to discriminate directly or indirectly in recruitment or employment because of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), sexual orientation, religion or belief, or because someone is married or in a civil partnership. These are known as “protected characteristics”.

Discrimination after employment may also be unlawful, eg refusing to give a reference for a reason related to one of the protected characteristics.
It is unlawful for an employer to fail to make reasonable adjustments to its requirements, working practices or the physical features of the workplace where these put a disabled job applicant or employee at a substantial disadvantage. It is also unlawful discrimination where a disabled employee is at a substantial disadvantage due to the employer’s unreasonable failure to provide an auxiliary aid or service to the disabled employee.

It is generally unlawful to discriminate directly or indirectly, harass or victimise a member of the public based on any of the protected characteristics in the provision of services, goods or facilities. It is unlawful to fail to make reasonable adjustments to overcome barriers to using services caused by disability. The duty to make reasonable adjustments includes the removal, adaptation or alteration of physical features, if the physical features make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of services. In addition, service providers have an obligation to think ahead and make reasonable adjustments to address any barriers that may impede disabled people from accessing a service.

Dignity at work

The company is committed to creating a work environment free of harassment and bullying, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Some harassment is unlawful discrimination and serious harassment may be a criminal offence.
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, and/or an abuse or misuse of power that is meant to undermine, humiliate or injure the person on the receiving end. Examples of bullying would include picking on someone or setting them up to fail or making threats or comments about someone’s job security without good reason.

Harassment is unwanted conduct related to relevant protected characteristics, which are sex, gender reassignment, race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age, that:

  • has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person; or
  • is reasonably considered by that person to have the effect of violating their dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them, even if this effect was not intended by the person responsible for the conduct.

Examples of harassment would include: physical conduct ranging from unwelcome touching to serious assault; unwelcome sexual advances; demeaning comments about a person’s appearance; unwelcome jokes or comments of a sexual or racial nature or about an individual’s age; excluding an individual because they are associated or connected with someone with a protected characteristic, eg their child is gay, spouse is black or parent is disabled; repeated name calling related to an individual’s religion or belief, ignoring an individual because they are perceived to have a protected characteristic, eg an employee is thought to be Jewish, or is perceived to be transgender; the use of obscene gestures; and the open display of pictures or objects with sexual or racial overtones, even if not directed at any particular person or relating to their actual or perceived protected characteristic, eg magazines, calendars or pin-ups.

Conduct may be harassment whether or not the person behaving in that way intends to offend. Something intended as a “joke” may offend others. Everyone has the right to decide what behaviour is acceptable to them and to have their feelings respected by others. Behaviour that any reasonable person would likely find offensive will be harassment without the recipient having to make it clear in advance that behaviour of that type is not acceptable to them. It may not be so clear in advance that some other forms of behaviour would be unwelcome to, or offend, a particular person, eg certain “banter”, flirting or asking someone for a private drink after work. In these cases, first-time conduct that unintentionally causes offence will not be harassment but if made clear from recipient this is unwelcome and unacceptable it becomes harassment.

A single incident can be harassment if it is sufficiently serious.

If you think you are being bullied or harassed, you may be able to sort out matters informally. The person may not know that their behaviour is unwelcome or upsetting. You may feel able to approach the person yourself, or with the help of someone else at the company. You should tell the person what behaviour you find offensive and unwelcome, and say that you would like it to stop immediately.

If an informal approach does not resolve matters, or you think the situation is too serious to be dealt with informally, you can make a formal complaint by using the company’s grievance procedure]. In the case of grievances about bullying or harassment, the normal grievance procedure is modified so that you can choose whether to raise your grievance with your manager or with another manager.

All complaints will be investigated promptly and, if appropriate, disciplinary proceedings will be brought against the alleged harasser. You will have the right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union official of your choice at any meeting dealing with your grievance. You will be kept informed of the general progress of the process of investigation and, subject to data protection requirements, the outcome of any disciplinary proceedings.
The company will treat complaints of bullying and harassment sensitively and maintain confidentiality to the maximum extent possible.

You have a right not to be victimised for making a complaint in good faith, even if the complaint is not upheld. However, making a complaint that you know to be untrue may lead to disciplinary action being taken against you.

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Your responsibilities

Every employee is required to assist the company to meet its commitment to provide equal opportunities in employment and avoid unlawful discrimination.
Employees can be held personally liable as well as, or instead of, the company, for any act of unlawful discrimination. Employees who commit serious acts of harassment may be guilty of a criminal offence.

Acts of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation against employees or customers are disciplinary offences and will be dealt with under the company’s disciplinary procedure. Conduct of this type will often be gross misconduct which can lead to dismissal without notice.