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Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

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Title: Equality Commission for Northern Ireland


1
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
  • Overview of equality legislation in Northern
    Ireland and implications for further higher
    education
  • South West Regional College June 2009
  • Mary McSorley

www.equalityni.org
2
Overview of session
  • Role services of ECNI
  • Key inequalities in N Ireland
  • Summary of anti-discrimination law that applies
    to FHE
  • Brief overview of s75 equality and good relations
    duties on public authorities
  • Overview of DDA disability duties
  • Implications for staff working in FHE

3
Key inequalities in N Ireland?
  • Persistent inequalities still exist in
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Health Social Care
  • Housing Communities
  • Participation in public life
  • Prejudice
  • (ref ECNI statement on Key inequalities in N
    Ireland, Oct 2007)

4
Anti-discrimination law
  • Sex Discrimination Order (sex, gender
    reassignment, marital status) 1976 (as amended)
    and Equal Pay Act 1970 (as amended)
  • Fair Employment Treatment Order (religious
    belief/ political opinion) 1998 (original legis
    1976)
  • Race Relations Order (includes colour,
    nationality, Irish Travellers) 1997 (as amended)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended
    (including SENDO 2005)
  • Sexual Orientation Regulations 2003/2006
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • (apply to employment and vocational training)

5
What does the law cover?
  • College as an employer or training provider
  • College as an education establishment
  • College as a service provider (goods, facilities
    and services) - except for Age

6
Employment provisions (also apply to training
provision)
  • Recruitment selection
  • Terms conditions
  • Promotion, transfer training
  • Access to benefits
  • Redundancy
  • Harassment
  • After the working or training relationship has
    ended (eg provision of references)

7
Goods, facilities services
  • Where services are provided to the public or a
    section of the public unlawful to discriminate
    on any of the protected grounds (religion,
    gender, disability, etc) by
  • Refusing or deliberately omitting to provide
    service to a group or person
  • Refusing or deliberately omitting to provide
    service of same quality, in same manner or on
    same terms

8
Fair Employment Treatment Order 1998, as
amended (original legislation employment only)
  • Unlawful to discriminate on grounds of religious
    belief or political opinion in
  • Employment (original legislation 1976)
  • Provision of goods, facilities, services
  • Sale and letting of land or premises
  • Further and higher education
  • Partnerships and barristers

9
FETO duties on employers
  • Register - 11 or more full time employees
  • Monitor - employees applicants
  • Review - every 3 years (composition of workforce,
    recruitment, training promotion practices) to
    ensure fair participation
  • Affirmative action (if required)
  • Set goals and timetables

10
Race Relations (NI) Order 1997(as amended)
  • Unlawful to discriminate on racial grounds
  • Covers colour, race, nationality (inc
    citizenship), and ethnic or national origins
  • Irish travellers specified as racial group
  • Applies to employment, provision of goods,
    facilities and services, education, training,
    housing and advertising
  • Some 2003 amendments do NOT apply to colour
    and nationality

11
Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 (as amended)
  • Discrimination unlawful on the basis of a
    persons sex (or marital status/civil partner
    status employment)
  • Covers Employment Goods, Facilities and
    Services Education Training Housing
  • Includes Advertising Pregnancy and maternity
    rights Sexual harassment
  • Gender reassignment also protected in employment
    and vocational training (since 1999) and in
    provision of goods, facilities services (2008)

12
Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970(as amended)
  • Employers are required to give equal treatment in
    pay and conditions of employment to men and women
    where they are doing
  • The same or broadly similar work
  • Doing jobs which have been rated equivalent under
    a job evaluation scheme
  • Doing work of equal value

13
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation
Regulations) 2003
  • Unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual
    orientation (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or
    heterosexual)
  • Applies only to Employment and Vocational
    training (including further and higher education)
    - separate law for gfs
  • Genuine Occupational Requirements may apply in
    limited circumstances
  • Note Civil Partnership Act 2004 required
    amendments
  • to this law

14
Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
(NI) 2006
  • Unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual
    orientation in the provision of goods,
    facilities, services, premises, education
    public functions
  • Exemption for religious organisations where the
    sole purpose is to practice or advance a religion
    or belief

15
Disability Discrimination Act 1995(as amended)
  • The Act gives disabled people rights in relation
    to
  • Employment
  • Access to goods, facilities and services
  • Buying or renting land or property
  • Education (since 1 Sept 2005)
  • DDA further amended by DDO 2006 provisions
    being implemented in stages from Jan 2007
  • Transport Regulations expected later 2009

16
Special Educational Needs Disability Order (NI)
2005 (amended 2006 re FHE)
  • Duties on bodies responsible for the provision of
    education and associated services
  • Not to treat disabled students and prospective
    students (and former students of FHE in some
    circumstances) less favourably for a reason
    related to their disability.
  • To make reasonable adjustments to all policies,
    procedures and practices to ensure that a
    disabled student is not placed at a substantial
    disadvantage.
  • To work towards making college life or the
    education experience more accessible to disabled
    students and prospective students.

17
Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (NI) 2006
  • Unlawful to discriminate on grounds of age in
    employment and vocational training (including
    further higher education)
  • Applies to all ages and all sizes of
    employer/training provider
  • Exceptions/exemptions apply
  • NOTE does not apply to gfs

18
Positive action/genuine occupational requirements
(GOR)
  • Positive action to address imbalances is
    permitted under the legislation on gender, race,
    disability, sexual orientation and age
  • GOR it can be lawful to confine recruitment to
    a job or course to a particular group but
    exclusion of other groups must be justifiable

19
Main types of discrimination
  • Direct discrimination
  • Indirect discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Victimisation
  • Pregnancy discrimination
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustment (for a
    disabled person/student)

20
Direct discrimination
  • Less favourable treatment on grounds of
  • religious belief/political opinion
  • sex (or marital/civil partnership status
    employment only or gender reassignment)
  • Pregnancy (explicitly covered since 2005)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race (including being an Irish Traveller)
  • Disability (including failure to make reasonable
    adjustment)
  • Age (since October 2006) employment only

21
Indirect discrimination
  • Applying a provision, criterion or practice
    which, while applied equally, disadvantages a
    person on a particular ground and which cannot be
    justified
  • No concept of indirect discrimination in
    Disability legislation
  • Indirect discrimination can be justified if it is
    a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate
    aim
  • Institutional discrimination result of
    traditional policies and practices that are not
    equality proofed cant be justified

22
Indirect discrimination - examples
  • Physical requirement - height, age
  • Language requirements
  • Requirement to work or study full-time
  • Qualifications, experience
  • Mobility/flexibility
  • Internal trawls
  • Residency requirements

23
Harassment
  • Unwanted conduct on grounds of sexual
    orientation, race, religious belief or political
    opinion, disability, sex or age which has the
    purpose or effect of violating a persons dignity
    or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading,
    humiliating or offensive environment.
  • This definition applies to employment and to
    education and service provision in some
    circumstances.

24
Victimisation
  • Less favourable treatment due to
  • Asserting rights under equality legislation
  • Helping someone else to assert rights
  • Alleging that someone has contravened equality
    legislation

25
Reasonable adjustments
  • Anticipatory duty to make adjustments to ensure
    disabled people can access work, services,
    education, etc
  • Change policies, practices and procedures
  • Provide auxiliary aids services
  • Remove or alter physical barriers or provide
    service in different way

26
S75 equality and good relations duties- Northern
Ireland Act 1998 (1)
  • Section 75 (1)
  • A public authority in carrying out its
    functions in relation to NI shall have due regard
    to the need to promote equality of opportunity
  • between
  • persons of different religious belief, political
    opinion, racial group, age, marital status or
    sexual orientation
  • men and women generally
  • persons with disability and without
  • persons with dependants and without

27
Section 75 equality good relations duties (2)
  • Public authorities are also required
  • to have regard to the desirability of promoting
    good relations between persons of different
    religious belief, political opinion or racial
    group.
  • commonly referred to as the good relations
    duty

28
Aim of s75
  • To put equality and good relations at the heart
    of public authorities policy and decision making
    mainstreaming
  • To go beyond avoidance of discrimination to
    positive promotion of equality
  • Anticipatory duty to address identified
    inequalities

29
What does s75 involve?
  • Equality schemes
  • Equality impact assessment of policies
  • Consultation with affected groups and service
    users
  • Mitigation of adverse impact of policies
  • Annual reports to ECNI, 5 year reviews, ongoing
    monitoring of outcomes

30
Equality impact assessment
  • Requires public authorities to screen policies
    for possible impact on equality of opportunity
  • If screened in, must equality impact assess
    policy or proposed policy for any adverse impact
  • If possible adverse impact identified, take steps
    to mitigate or change policy
  • Consult with users/affected groups on EQIAs and
    publicise results of consultation (Note need for
    consultation to be effective and to inform
    policies/planning)

31
Review of effectiveness of s75 equality good
relations duties (report Nov 2008)
  • Impacts on policy
  • Impacts on individuals
  • Measuring impacts and outcomes
  • Key findings/recommendations more focus in
    future schemes on action plans to achieve
    desired outcomes effective consultation link to
    business planning and other improvement programmes

32
DDA Disability duties
  • Since Jan 2007, public authorities (including
    FHE colleges) have duties to
  • Promote positive attitudes towards disabled
    people
  • Encourage participation by disabled people in
    public life
  • - in addition to existing duties under
  • the DDA, SENDO s75

33
What is public life?
  • Broad term which includes, for example,
    government public appointments, consultative or
    working groups which support a public bodys
    work, Boards of governors, etc
  • Political life
  • Initiatives which engage disabled people in
    decision making

34
Why the DDA duties are important
  • Disabled people under-represented in many aspects
    of public life
  • Need to address negative attitudes, behaviour
    based on prejudice, demeaning stereotypes
  • Absence of positive images of disabled people
    lack of understanding
  • Aim is to change the way some people think about
    and act towards disabled people and to ensure
    disabled people have a greater say in public
    decision making

35
What do public bodies have to do?
  • Produce a Disability action plan and submit to
    ECNI
  • Annual report on progress
  • Five year review
  • Plans must include measures/actions to be
    undertaken, performance indicators and timescales
  • Measures committed to must go beyond what
    organisations are already required to do under
    the DDA, eg, in terms of access and
    non-discrimination

36
What can college staff do to help comply with s75
and DDA duties?
  • Role for everyone in the organisation
  • balance of corporate and individual actions
  • Become familiar with College equality scheme and
    disability action plan, good relations
    initiatives and equal opportunities policies
  • Consider how best to contribute within own sphere
    of work/expertise
  • Know the law and the issues affecting the
    different groups
  • Self awareness examine own attitudes,
    prejudice, stereotypes
  • Challenge others negative attitudes or
  • behaviour

37
What can college staff do? (2)
  • Consider equality awareness for students in
    course programmes (ECNI can provide input)
  • Monitor take up of courses by all s75 categories
    how does your course profile contribute to
    overall College equality goals?
  • Monitor by disability for DDA duties and ensure
    own courses contribute to Colleges disability
    action plan
  • Explore reasons for non-participation by
    different groups (eg, is there a chill factor?)
    take action as necessary
  • Ensure partnership initiatives pay attention to
    Colleges equality policies and goals
  • Be aware of negative assumptions
  • about any of the equality groups

38
Monitoring for equality in course provision
  • How is course promoted? To whom/what groups?
  • What measures are taken to target groups who
    dont traditionally apply?
  • Who is applying? Who is enrolling/being
    accepted? Any issues?
  • Who is dropping out? Why? Any issues?
  • Who is performing best/worst? Any trends or
    patterns to be investigated?
  • Student feedback action taken?

39
Importance of monitoring
  • Not just about collecting data provides the
    basis for taking positive action to promote
    equality
  • Required by the legislation onus on public
    authorities to put systems in place to collect
    relevant information and to use it to assess
    impact of policies on the promotion of equality
  • All categories must be considered in developing
    monitoring arrangements
  • Need to focus on achieving changes and outcomes
    based on sound information

40
Importance of consultation
  • Consultation leads to focus on users of service
  • Consultation assists evidence based policy making
    provides opportunity for those affected to give
    their views.
  • Consultation must be appropriate, eg, methods
    used
  • Consultation is important part of any business
    improvement/customer service initiative

41
Dealing with inappropriate behaviours
  • Comply with organisational policies and enforce
    student conduct/disciplinary policies as
    necessary
  • Be aware of own prejudices, etc, which can
    influence expectations and response
  • Manage students behaviours towards each other
    and take action as appropriate
  • Early intervention/prevention better than cure
  • Remember individuals can be personally liable
    for complaints of harassment under the
    anti-discrimination legislation

42
Suggested measures to promote equality (can apply
to any of the discrimination grounds)
  • Develop links with relevant support
    groups/organisations
  • Outreach measures to recruit under-represented
    groups
  • Review internal support systems available and
    work closely with internal services
  • Consult with existing students and potential
    students to identify barriers and problems
    student councils, consultative groups, course
    evaluation panels, etc, should reflect disability
    other s75 grounds
  • Ensure representation in college and course
    literature, open days, information events, etc
  • Promotional work with students, staff and other
    service providers or partners
  • Make external organisations/clients aware of
    Colleges policies and equality goals

43
Promoting equality requires
  • Acknowledging unconscious prejudices and
    stereotypes racial, gender, disability,
    religious, sexual orientation, age
  • Minimising risk of harassment/bullying and taking
    steps to deal with complaints if they arise
  • Accommodating special needs disability,
    language, religious/cultural differences, gender,
    etc
  • Equality proofing teaching materials and
    approaches and ensuring accessible and welcoming
    environment
  • Avoiding language/behaviour which could be
    perceived as sexist, sectarian, homophobic, etc
  • Setting high standards for access participation
  • Integrating equality objectives into core
    business
  • Challenging traditional policies and practices
    (minimising potential for indirect
    discrimination)
  • Ongoing monitoring and review

44
Further advice or information
  • Equality Commissions enquiry line 90 890 890
    for free advice or training
  • Website www.equalityni.org
  • Advisory publications
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