Equality and diversity policy

1. Policy

Riverside Way is committed to recognising and encouraging equality and diversity amongst the workforce. Any form of unfair discrimination, victimisation or harassment on the grounds of an individual’s protected characteristics, as follows, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated within the workplace.

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex; and
  • Sexual orientation

The policy does not form part of any employees’ contract of employment and may be amended at any time.

1.1 Equality

Equality is about ensuring that employees, customers and suppliers are treated fairly and equally.

Riverside Way recognises that treating people equally does not mean treating everyone the same, and as such sometimes it will be necessary to treat some people differently in order for them to experience equal treatment.

An example of this includes that Riverside Way will not make assumptions about disabled employee’s ability to take part in training or the benefits they will gain.

1.2 Diversity

Is about recognising that people are individuals and therefore differ from each other in a variety of ways.

Riverside Way is committed to ensuring that the diversity of employees, customers and suppliers is valued, and as such, viewed positively and as something to be harnessed for the benefit of the company.

Riverside Way believe that harnessing differences will lead to a more productive working environment in which everyone feels valued, employee’s talents are fully utilised, customer needs are satisfied and our business goals are met.

1.3 Discrimination

Occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person who is in the same or similar position, and the reason for this treatment is not justifiable.

Discrimination can occur in the following ways:

1.3.1 Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs if an employer discriminates against an employee because of a protected characteristic, whether or not the employee possesses that characteristic (except in the case of marital status or civil partnership).

An example of direct discrimination happens when an employer treats an employee less favourably than someone else. For example, it would be direct discrimination if a driving job was only open to male applicants.

It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee because of the connection with someone who possesses a protected characteristic, or because they are mistakenly perceived not to possess a protected characteristic. This is called discrimination by association or perception.

1.3.2 Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs when an individual is subject to an unjustified provision, criterion or practice which puts them at a particular disadvantage because of, for example, a requirement to have excellent written English may indirectly discriminate against non-British job applicants. This definition covers formal requirements, conditions and provisions, as well as informal practices. It also covers gender reassignment and disability.

1.3.3 Disability discrimination

This occurs when employers treat employees in a detrimental way because of something that is a consequence of their disability. An example includes being dismissed with a poor attendance record when the absences were caused by disability. This would be unlawful unless dismissal could be justified if the Company are trying to achieve a ‘legitimate aim’ and an approach is a proportionate means of achieving this aim, or the Company could not reasonably have been expected to know of disability.

1.4 Victimisation

Occurs where a person is treated less favourably because they carried out a ‘protected act’, e.g. has alleged that discrimination or harassment has taken place; has presented a claim to an employment tribunal; or has acted as a witness in a discrimination or harassment case. Some examples of victimisation include being labelled as a trouble maker, denied promotion or training opportunities.

1.5 Harassment

This is unwanted conduct that is associative or perceived which has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creates an environment that is demeaning, degrading, threatening or hostile. This will be dealt with under the Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.

Employers can be held liable for the sexual harassment of their employees by a third party (for example, someone outside their organisation).

The act extends liability for third-party harassment to all protected characteristics (other than pregnancy/maternity and marriage/civil partnerships) where the employer has failed to take responsible steps to prevent it, and provided the employer knows that the employee has experienced third-party harassment on at least two prior occasions. An example of harassment includes any team members commonly making jokes at the expense of the youngest member of the team. If the youngest are constantly being told that they are the youngest or ‘wet behind the ears’ by colleagues.

1.6 Bullying

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, which involves an abuse or misuse of power through means, intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure recipients.

Examples of harassment and bullying may also include unwanted remarks, inappropriate jokes or ridicule, unwelcome physical contact, suggestions or demands for sexual favours, racial shunning or segregation.

1.7 Occupational requirement

In limited circumstances it will be lawful for an employer to treat people differently if it is an occupational requirement. Where there is a genuine requirement for a particular type of person to do the job, the employee must be able to justify a sound business reason. This may occur if it is necessary that, for example, an individual of a particular religion be required to do a job.

2. Key principles

Riverside Way’s Equality and Diversity principles apply to all employees and customers and are supported by a range of complimentary policy documents that direct and guide work.

Riverside Way aims to ensure that no job applicant receives less favourable treatment on any of the unlawful grounds listed in Section One. The selection procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure that individuals are treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Job selection criteria are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are essential for the effective performance of the job and therefore justified on non-discriminatory grounds.

Riverside Way will monitor redundancy criteria and procedures to ensure that they are fair and objective and are not directly or indirectly discriminatory.

Riverside Way will ensure that disciplinary procedures are carried out fairly and uniformly for all employees, whether they result in the giving of disciplinary warnings, dismissal or other disciplinary action.

Riverside Way aims to create a working environment free from unlawful discrimination, victimisation or harassment.

Riverside Way aims to treat all staff fairly in respect of training and development opportunities and will encourage them to reach their full potential and increase their contribution to an effective service delivery. All requests will be considered on the basis of the need and relevance to the job being undertaken by the employee.

3. Responsibility

All Riverside Way employees have an individual responsibility for ensuring equality of opportunity and adherence to this policy by respecting the right to work in an environment free from prejudice and discrimination, by behaving in a considerate and sensitive manner and by challenging colleagues who fall short of these expectations.

All employees are required to ensure that they treat all people that they come into contact with during the course of their work fairly, equally and with respect.

The Student Living Manager will be the lead role for all Equality and Diversity issues within Riverside Way and for the review and administration of the policy.

4. Communication

The Equality and Diversity Policy will be communicated to all employees within Riverside Way with updates issued as and when required through Policy Hub.

The Equality and Diversity Policy will also be included on Riverside Way’s website to enable access for all customers, suppliers, contractors and other interested parties.

5. Training

Training on Equality and Diversity issues will be made available to all staff members on request.

Refresher Equality and Diversity training will be given as and when necessary to reflect changes in legislation and social expectations.

6. Breaches of the policy

If an employee believes that they may have been discriminated against, the employee is encouraged to raise the matter through the Grievance Policy.

If an employee believes that they may have been subject to harassment, the employee is encouraged to raise the matter through the Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.

If an employee is uncertain which applies or need advice on how to proceed, then the employee should speak with the relevant management.

Allegations regarding potential breaches of the policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the relevant procedure. Employees who make such allegations in good faith will not be victimised or treated less favourably as a result. False allegations which are found to have been made in bad faith will, however, be dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy.

Any employee who is found to have committed acts of discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action. Such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct and, as such, may result in summary dismissal.

Riverside Way always takes a strict approach to serious breaches of the policy.

7. Monitoring

Regular monitoring will be undertaken with training and development, complaints, appeals and harassment cases in order to help identify and address any less favourable treatment and/or inequality.

The Student Living Manager will review the diversity statistics on an annual basis and submit a report to the Executive Committee if requested.