The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been working with smaller organisations to develop a series of guides tailored to the specific needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
Treating people fairly, with dignity and respect, is at the heart of both the Equality Act (the culmination of a range of laws aiming to make things fairer for everyone) and the global standards for organisations’/employers’ responsibilities in terms of respecting human rights. Workplace policies that prevent discrimination and protect and promote people’s rights to an inclusive and safe working environment can not only reduce costs but enable organisations to retain and attract the best staff and improve productivity and performance.
A number of new guides were added in March 2013 on the theme of discrimination and human rights:
- Understanding the legal definitions of discrimination under the Equality Act (e.g. indirect and direct discrimination, discrimination arising from disability, failing to make reasonable adjustments, victimisation, etc.).
- The role of employers under the Equality Act (e.g. guidance on not acting discriminatively whilst advertising jobs; recruiting new staff; managing sickness absence or requests for flexible working/hours, etc.).
- The role of service providers under the Equality Act (guidance for those offering services and public functions to the public, e.g. the behaviour of staff offering services to the public, the nature of the building from which the services are delivered, etc.).
- A guide to business and human rights (e.g. respecting human rights and why this is so important for organisations).
Other guides in the collection (published before March 2013) include the following:
- How flexible working can add value to organisations.
- Understanding the rights of women who are pregnant or on maternity leave when they are facing redundancy.
Employers have a responsibility to look after their staff. This entails ensuring the equal and fair treatment of all, as well as protecting the health of staff by reducing risks to health in the workplace, supporting staff who have health issues and helping those who are off sick to make a timely return to work (possibly by making adjustments to their job roles).