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Equality and Diversity Policy

Rubin Lewis O’Brien is committed to ensuring the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality and diversity in all our professional dealings; this means that all clients, job applicants and employees, counsel, experts or agents will receive equal treatment regardless of nationality, ethnic or national origins, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation.

In accordance with Solicitors’ Regulation Authority requirements, a voluntary survey has been carried out with employees and Partners during June 2017 in order to monitor the ethnic and sexual composition of existing staff. Results are as follows:

Out of the 47 questionnaires issued, 24 responses were received.

For all details relating to any specific category (i.e. age, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief etc) please contact Sally Chesse, HR Officer on sally.chesse@rlo.law who will be pleased to supply specific data.

The Policy wording given below is taken from the Rubin Lewis O’Brien Office Manual April 2017

10.2. Equality & Diversity Policy

10.2.1

The Practice is committed to ensuring the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality and diversity. This includes employment and partnership, recruitment, selection, progression, and the instruction of counsel and experts in all professional dealings. This means that all job applicants and employees, counsel, experts or agents will receive fair treatment regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex (gender), or sexual orientation (‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010).

10.2.2

In the same way, the Practice operates an equality and diversity policy in respect of the delivery of service to its Clients. It will not discriminate against clients/potential clients on the grounds of any of the protected characteristics, in deciding whether to accept instructions from clients/potential clients and will ensure delivery of service is consistent and fair to all clients, making reasonable adjustments as appropriate for personnel and disabled clients.

10.2.3

The Practice is committed to ensuring the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality and diversity with regards to employees’ maternity, paternity and adoption rights and will ensure that equal treatment is afforded to any employee wishing to exercise such rights.

10.2.4

This policy applies to all aspects of our relationship with staff and to relations between staff members at all levels. This includes recruitment and selection, training and development, opportunities for promotion and progession, conditions of service, pay and benefits, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and termination of employment.

10.2.5 Forms of Discrimination

There exists a number of forms of discrimination which are listed below:

(a)
Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of a Protected Characteristic. For example, rejecting a job applicant because of their religious views or because they might be gay.
(b)
Indirect discrimination: a provision, criterion, policy or practice that applies to everyone but adversely affects people with a particular Protected Characteristic more than others and is not justified. For example, requiring a job to be done full-time rather than part-time would adversely affect women because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement would be discriminatory unless it can be justified.
(c)
Harassment: this includes sexual harassment and other unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them or other member of staff. Harassment is dealt with further in our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.
(d)
Victimisation: retaliation against someone who has complained or has supported someone else’s complaint about discrimination or harassment.
(e)
Disability discrimination: this includes direct and indirect discrimination, any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability, and failure to make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantages caused by a disability.
(f)
Associative Discrimination – direct discrimination takes place against someone because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic. For example, a carer of a person with a disability.
(g)
Discrimination by Perception – direct discrimination because others think (wrongly) that someone has a protected characteristic. For example, when they think someone is gay when they are not and discriminate against them on the basis of that perception.

10.2.6 Legislation and Codes of Practice

The Firm is committed to promoting equality pursuant to the Equality Act 2010 and the EHRC Employment Statutory Code of Practice.

10.2.7 Recruitment and training of staff

10.2.7.1
The Firm welcomes job applications from both sexes and all races and ages, and from disabled persons, and will ensure that there are equal opportunities in all stages of the recruitment process. We aim to ensure that no job applicant suffers discrimination because of any of the protected characteristics above.
10.2.7.2
Applicants should not be asked about health or disability before a job offer is made. There are limited exceptions which should only be used with Human Resources approval. For example:
(a)
Questions necessary to establish if an applicant can perform an intrinsic part of the job (subject to any reasonable adjustments).
(b)
Questions to establish if an applicant is fit to attend an assessment or any reasonable adjustments that may be needed at interview or assessment.
(c)
Positive action to recruit disabled persons.
(d)
Equal opportunities monitoring (which will not form part of the decision-making process).
10.2.7.3
Applicants should not be asked about past or current pregnancy or future intentions related to pregnancy. Applicants should not be asked about matters concerning age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or gender reassignment without the approval of Human Resources (who should first consider whether such matters are relevant and may lawfully be taken into account).
10.2.7.4
We are required by law to ensure that all employees are entitled to work in the UK. Assumptions about immigration status should not be made based on appearance or apparent nationality. All prospective employees, regardless of nationality, must be able to produce original documents (such as a passport) before employment starts, to satisfy current immigration legislation. The list of acceptable documents is available from Human Resources or the UK Border Agency.
10.2.7.5
Training of any individual is based solely on the needs of that individual to carry out their duties within the Practice and conditions of service are standard throughout the practice, save some differences between Fee earning and Administrative personnel. Promotion within the Firm is based solely on merit

10.2.8 Equality & Diversity Training

The Equality and Diversity Officer is responsible for ensuring that training of all personnel on compliance with equality and diversity requirements are carried out and that a record of training is maintained.

10.2.9 Monitoring & Review

This policy will be monitored by the Equality & Diversity Officer whose name is
listed in the Office Manual as the Responsible person in the Firm to judge its effectiveness. It will be reviewed annually and communicated to all employees via the normal procedure for communicating in-house Policies and Procedures, usually via e-mail and/or hard copy and is always available on G drive of the Firm’s computer system. In particular, the Equality & Diversity Officer will monitor the diversity of its existing staff and of applicants for jobs and the number of disabled people within these groups and will review its equal opportunities policy in accordance with the results shown by the monitoring. If changes are required, the Firm will implement them. The Firm will conduct a Diversity Survey each year. The results will be analysed and a report made to the SRA. The firm’s analysis will also be published as appropriate subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act and the Information Commissioner’s published guidance.

10.2.10 Breaches

10.2.10.1
If you believe that you may have been discriminated against you are encouraged to raise the matter through our Grievance Procedure. If you believe that you may have been subject to harassment you are encouraged to raise the matter through our Anti-harassment Policy. If you are uncertain which applies or need advice on how to proceed you should speak to the Human Resources Department.
10.2.10.2
Allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the relevant procedure. Staff 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 our Disciplinary Procedure.
10.2.10.3
Any member of staff who is found to have committed an act of discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action. Such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct and, as such, may result in summary dismissal. We take a strict approach to serious breaches of this policy.

10.2.11 Disciplinary and Grievance Policy and Procedures

The terms of the Practice’s Disciplinary and Grievance procedures are set out in separate Policy Documents – Disciplinary Policy, Grievance Policy.

10.2.12 Abolition of Retirement Age

10.2.12.1
With effect from 6th April 2011 legislation has come into force which abolished the default retirement age of 65.
10.2.12.2
In light of clause 9.1 of this Policy, should any employee wish to terminate his/her employment with RLO at any time, he/she should write to the HR Officer giving the appropriate notice period, as set out in his/her Contract of Employment.

10.2.13 Disability Discrimination

10.2.13.1
If you are disabled or become disabled, we encourage you to tell us about your condition so that we can support you as appropriate.
10.2.13.2
If you experience difficulties at work because of your disability, you may wish to contact your manager or the Human Resources Department to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty. Your line manager or The Human Resources Department may wish to consult with you and your medical advisers about possible adjustments. We will consider the matter carefully and try to accommodate your needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible.
10.2.13.3
We will monitor the physical features of our premises to consider whether they place disabled workers, job applicants or service users at a substantial disadvantage compared to other staff. Where reasonable, we will take steps to improve access for disabled staff and service users.

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