Workplace legislation

(incorporating Sexual Orientation Discrimination 2003, Same Sex Partnership 2004 and Gender Recognition Bill 2004)

For the first time we have legislation that can protect LGB specifically at Work

In December 2003 there came into being new legislation that outlawed discrimination in the workplace only on the grounds of Sexual orientation and Religion/Belief.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Regulations 1st December 2003
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003

WHAT THE REGULATIONS SAY - in summary
These Regulations apply to employment – including recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and vocational training. They make it unlawful on the grounds sexual orientation to

  • discriminate directly against anyone – that is, to treat them less favourably than others because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation;
  • discriminate indirectly against anyone – that is, to apply a criterion, provision or practice which disadvantages an individual because of their sexual orientation without a good reason © Schools OUT!
  • subject someone to harassment. Harassment is unwanted conduct that violates people’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Disenabling some one to be out
  • discriminate against someone, in certain circumstances, after the working relationship has ended.

Exceptions may be made in very limited circumstances if there is a genuine occupational requirement for the worker to be of a particular sexual orientation in order to do the job.

  • subject someone to harassment. Harassment is unwanted conduct that violates people’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. (ie Disenabling some one to be out)
  • discriminate against someone, in certain circumstances, after the working relationship has ended.
  • Organisations are responsible for the actions of their staff as well as the staff being individually responsible.
  • If harassment takes place in the workplace the organisation may be liable and may be ordered to pay compensation unless it can be shown that it took reasonable steps to prevent harassment.
  • Individuals who harass may also be ordered to pay compensation.
    The law applies to all workers
  • That is anyone who applies to an organisation for work, or who already works for an organisation whether they are directly employed, are employed under some other kind of contract – or are an agency worker.
  • Organisations will also be responsible for the behaviour of their staff towards an individual working for someone else but on their premises, for example someone from another organisation repairing a piece of your equipment.
  • Staff are sometimes harassed by third parties, such as customers or clients.
    Organisations have a responsibility to protect their staff from such harassment and should take steps to deal with actual or potential situations of this kind.

You can find the whole regulations at

http://www.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2003/20031661.htm

The acas guidance can be found at
http://www.acas.org.uk/publications/pdf/guide_sexualO.pdf

The questionnaire which could be a useful tool to wake up your employer which is at the end of this document can be found at
http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/equality/so_questionnaire.htm

Stonewall have produced guidelines for employers on the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. The guidelines, which are for all employers, large and small, include a toolkit. The guidelines can be downloaded from thewww.stonewall.org.uk and are also available as hard copy.

After the judicial review we have a much clearer picture about religious schools. In short it is extremely unlikely that a school will be able to not hire a LGB person to teach in the school or dismiss them. It became clear that the regulations are aimed at Church appointments. The crucial thing about the regs are that if you are being told that you cannot be out as a LGB person or a Muslim etc then that is creating a hostile environment and in contravention of the regs.

The NUT have very useful info on LGBT issues generally and the regs specifically seehttp://www.teachers.org.uk/topichome.php?id=39

and the NUSUWT on http://www.teachersunion.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=70237

The DTI have some useful information on the regulations
http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/equality/

July 2004 Gender Recognition Bill

Give transgendered people the right to change their gender definitively and for all purposes’

This will be done via Gender Recognition Panels

Panels will be functioning sometime in 2005

Gender Recognition Panels

To get a gender recognition certificate applicant must demonstrate that they are indeed transgendered. This involves showing that
they can answer yes to at least the first three of the following questions

Has a person taken decisive steps to live in the gender in which they believe to be more appropriate?

Do they intend to live in that gender till they die?

Have they been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria?

Have they undergone any medical treatment?

No one has the right to veto this process If the applicant is currently married to someone with their birth gender they will have to get a formal legal divorce before they have a Gender Recognition Certificate. Once the Certificate has been issued the person will be able to get their birth certificate in their correct name.

Confidentiality- if you have knowledge of someone having a Gender Recognition Certificate through your work it is illegal to divulge this to anyone

http://www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/publications/gender_reassignment_guide05.pdf

November 2004 Same Sex Civil Partnership

Important rights and responsibilities will flow from forming a civil partnership, helping same-sex couples to organise their lives together. Provisions in the Act include:

a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family;

civil partners to be assessed in the same way as spouses for child support;

equitable treatment for the purposes of life assurance;

employment and pension benefits;

recognition under intestacy rules;

access to fatal accidents compensation;

protection from domestic violence; and

recognition for immigration and nationality purposes

It is also a crime to homophobically or transphobically abuse us. Report all hate crime. We are still not protected as far as good and services however.

DTI employment regulations
http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/equality/eer_2003_amendments.htm

A very useful booklet to energise your council and give you ideas on how to talk to your employer
New Guidance on Engaging Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Communities

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and growing legal recognition of same-sex couples place new requirements on local authorities. The absence of legislation incorporating the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and protecting them from discrimination has meant that until recently, responding to their needs has been a political choice. Now, authorities unresponsive to these changes could leave themselves exposed to judicial review or other challenges.

A shift to citizen focused approaches and a renewed impetus to challenge institutionalised discrimination means that authorities must place equality and diversity centre stage. They must engage with marginalised and hard to reach communities to meet their duties under CPA, Best Value and Community Plans.

National and European legislation is clear that lesbian, gay and bisexual people must receive the same fundamental human rights as everyone else. The new employment regulations are a strong example involving many challenges. The rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are still not automatic and the legacy of s.28 has created anxiety about taking a strong lead on this issue. Members have a key role to play – in their executive roles by ensuring the issue is picked up corporately, in their community leadership roles, with respect to their portfolio, and through using the scrutiny role effectively.

The EO and LGA, in collaboration with Stonewall, UNISON and the Association of London Government have produced a new guide, Sexuality – The New Agenda, providing advice on how to engage with lesbian, gay and bisexual communities, including case studies, a ‘how to’ guide, new ideas and useful resources. Whilst recognising the constraints, it provides fresh impetus to start or improve work in this area.

For a copy of the guidance, priced at £20 (local authorities & charities), £40 (all others), contact Colin Divens at the Employers Organisation on 020 7296 6872, or by email at: colin.divens@lg-employers.gov.uk
http://www.lg-employers.gov.uk/diversity/sexuality/index.html


Web Link

http://www.schools-out.org.uk/policy/docs/SO%20guidelines.doc

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