What are the protected characteristics?
There are 9 protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010, these are:
- Age – This can refer to both – a group/person of a particular age (for example 32 years old) or a group/person of a particular age range (for example 18 – 30-year-olds).
- Disability – A person has a disability if a person has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
- Gender reassignment – The process of transitioning from one gender to another (which can be a psychological process as well as a physical process) and does not necessarily mean a person has to have surgery.
- Marriage & civil partnership – Marriage is defined as a ‘union between a man and a woman, man and a man, and a woman and a woman. Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters.
- Pregnancy & maternity – Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding
- Race – Refers to the protected characteristic of Race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.
- Religion and belief – Religion has the meaning usually given to it. Belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (e.g. Atheism). Generally, a belief would affect a person’s life choices or the way they live for it to be included in the definition.
- Sex – A man or a woman.
- Sexual orientation – Whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes.
The NHS is also expected to include three other categories as part of the protected characteristics: Socio-economic, Carers and Human Rights.
What does Equality and Diversity mean?
Equality does not mean treating everyone the same, but:
- Making sure people are treated fairly
- Meeting individual’s needs appropriately
- Challenging the factors that limit individuals’ opportunity
- Recognising and valuing individual and group differences
- Ensuring that many different types of people can contribute to society
What is the Equality Act 2010?
Pre 2010 there were different Acts for different groups – for example, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The Equality Act 2010 simplified the previous laws and put them together in one piece of legislation. It also makes the law stronger in some areas. Depending on the circumstances, the Act may provide further protection for members of staff.
Public Sector Equality Duty
What is the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and what does it do?
The PSED is a duty on public authorities to consider or think about how their policies or decisions affect people who are protected under the Equality Act. Private organisations and individuals don’t have to comply with the duty.
When public authorities carry out their functions, the Equality Act says they must have due regard or think about the need to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t
- foster or encourage good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don’t
Having due regard means public authorities must consciously consider or think about the need to do the three things set out in the public sector equality duty.
Public authorities also have specific duties under the Equality Act to help them comply with the public sector equality duty.
Public authorities must:
- publish equality information at least once a year to show how they’ve complied with the equality duty
- prepare and publish equality objectives at least every 4 years
Equality Impact Assessments (EIA)
What is an EIA?
It is when you assess the impact on equality of proposed changes to policies, procedures and practices is not just something the law requires, it is a positive opportunity for public authorities to ensure they make better decisions based on robust evidence.
The assessment does not necessarily have to take the form of an EIA but will help you to demonstrate compliance if you:
- Ensure you have a written record of the equality considerations you have taken into account
- Ensure that your decision-making includes a consideration of the actions that would help to avoid or mitigate any negative impacts on particular protected groups.
- Make your decisions based on evidence.
- Make your decision-making process more transparent
Transsexual men and women are expressly included in the Equality Act 2010 (Sex Discrimination Act) whereby they should not suffer discrimination because they have undergone, or are about to undergo gender reassignment. Gender reassignment is defined for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010 as a ‘process which is taken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex and includes any part of such a process’. The provisions cover employment related and some vocational training matters.
Some transgender people undergo medical treatment (gender reassignment) which can include, cosmetic treatment such as electrolysis for hair removal, hormone therapy and/or reconstructive surgery. Some people elect not to undergo medical treatment and simply live their life in their new gender role. It is very much an individual decision.
Discrimination on the grounds of gender includes discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment in employment and training. All Trust policies and procedures must adequately cover transsexual employees, especially those policies dealing with recruitment, confidentiality, harassment and access to training.
The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Recognition) gives transgender or transsexual people full legal recognition of change of gender. It enables them to live fully and permanently in their chosen gender and to apply for legal recognition of that gender.
The Trust has several Staff Networks covering a number of different protected characteristics.
Staff ED&I Ambassador Network is an intersectionality group supporting staff from all protected characteristics, plus the standalone networks. The group is made up of staff across the Trust and is where the leads of the standalone networks feed into for support on projects, events, and work to improve the staff experiences.
The Trust’s BME Network has been set up and is a safe space to discuss issues pertaining to our BME staff. The BME Network Chair attends the Ambassador meetings and the Trust’s ED&I Committee to take forward issues for resolution.
The Trust did have an LGBT+ Network but due to the lack of support the group folded a number of years ago. The EDI Lead will promote information about the launch of the new LGBT+ Network in March 22.
The Trust is about to launch a Disability Network and will be promoting this to hopefully have a network set up by the end of March 22.
The Trust is going to launch a Faith Network which will be led by Ian Baxter, Head of Chaplaincy. Further information about meeting dates will be circulated as soon as they have been arranged.
If you want to make a difference at BTH, then please join a network. To join contact the ED&I Lead in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rainbow Badge Scheme
The Rainbow Badge initiative is a way for NHS staff to demonstrate that they are aware of the issues that LGBT+ people can face when accessing healthcare.
The badge itself is intended to be a simple visual symbol identifying its wearer as someone a LGBT+ person can feel comfortable talking to about issues relating to sexuality or gender identity. It shows that the wearer is there to listen without judgement and signpost to further support if needed.
Committing to this promotion emphasises that you promote an environment that is open, tolerant, and inclusive. The aim of this initiative is to actively break down barriers which LGBT+ people may face within the NHS.
We are very keen to see the badges, and what they represent, spread across the Trust – but we want the emphasis on education, responsibility, and support to be the focus.
Links to the Pledge Form and background information can be found here: ..\..\DirMeetMins\Equality&Diversity\Rainbow Badges\Tina – Badge Handoutv1-Feb0320.pdf
Each year the Trust is expected to produce reports for the Government and for NHS Employers. Below is some information about each of these reports, and if you would like any further information the reports are on the Trust’s website. Or you can contact the Equality Diversity & Inclusion Lead: email@example.com
Staff Monitoring and ESR
The ‘specific’ duties with the Act place a requirement on public sector bodies to publish information to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty.
Collecting and monitoring data on the diversity of our workforce allows us to examine how our employment practices and processes are working, so areas where these appear to be impacting disproportionately on certain groups of staff can be identified. Importantly, the data collection, along with analysis can be used to inform and shape appropriate action.
Gender Pay Gap
What is a Gender Pay Gap (GPG)?
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across a workforce.
Since 2017, the Trust must produce a GPG report and action plan to submit to the Government website. This is due to employing more than 250 on your ‘snapshot date’ therefore must comply with regulations on gender pay gap reporting. Gender pay gap calculations are based on employer payroll data drawn from a specific date each year. This specific date is called the ‘snapshot date’, the Trust’s is the 31 March each year for the previous year, e.g. data for the year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 is reported by the 30 March 2022.
Workforce Race Equality Standard
Since 2015 all NHS organisations have been required to demonstrate how they are addressing race equality issues in a range of staffing areas through the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES).The NHS Equality and Diversity Council announced on 31 July 2014 that it had agreed action to ensure employees from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace.
This is important because studies shows that a motivated, included and valued workforce helps deliver high quality patient care, increased patient satisfaction and better patient safety.
In April 2015, after engaging and consulting with key stakeholders including other NHS organisations across England, the WRES was mandated through the NHS standard contract, starting in 2015/16. From 2017, independent healthcare providers are required to publish their WRES data.
Workforce Disability Equality Standard
The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is important, because research shows that a motivated, included and valued workforce helps to deliver high quality patient care, increased patient satisfaction and improved patient safety.
The WDES is a set of ten specific measures (metrics) that will enable NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts to compare the career and workplace experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. This information will then be used by the organisations to develop local action plans, enabling them to demonstrate year on year progress against the indicators of disability equality.
The implementation of the WDES will support positive change for existing employees and enable a more inclusive environment for disabled people currently working as well as those wishing to pursue careers in the NHS.
Equality Delivery System 2
What is the Equality Delivery System 2?
It is a system that helps NHS organisations improve the services they provide for their local communities and provide better working environments, free of discrimination, for those who work in the NHS, while meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. The EDS was developed by the NHS, for the NHS, taking inspiration from existing work and good practice. There are four goals which make up the EDS system with two goals focussing on patients and the other two on staff. Each year two consultation events are held by the Trust one for patients/advocates and third-party organisations, and one for staff.
The main purpose of the EDS2 was, and remains, to help local NHS organisations, in discussion with local partners including local communities, review and improve their performance for people with characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010. By using the EDS2, NHS organisations can also be helped to deliver on the Public Sector Equality Duty.