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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 15 June, 2015

Report of the Leader

Revised Equality Policy

Purpose of the Report

1.    It is recommended that the draft equality policy (Appendix A) is approved.

Recommendations

1.    That the revised equality policy as attached to this report is adopted and publicised.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To put in place a revised policy that reflects current equality legislation and encourages good practice. 

Background

2.    The Council's existing equality policy was revised in 2008. It does not, however, reflect the requirements of current equality legislation.  For example, it does not refer to all the protected characteristics covered in the Equality Act 2010.  It makes reference to previous equality schemes rather than the Strategic Equality Plan and Welsh Language Scheme.

 

3.    A working group was established to review the policy.  The working group comprised representatives from areas with responsibility for Housing, Social Services, Visible Services, Education, Human Resources and Equalities.

 

4.    If the new policy is approved, the intention would be to revoke the existing equal opportunities policy.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.    It is important to have an equality policy in place to show the Council's commitment to equality and to inform service users, partners, subcontractors, prospective employees and employees what we expect of them and what they can expect of the Council.   

 

6.    The equality policy provides information as to how we expect people to behave when they are working for us.  Making behavioural standards explicit and publishing them means that we are able to take appropriate action when we identify non-compliance.  Having such a policy in place strengthens our position in an employment tribunal.  These standards are not included in, and are separate to, the Strategic Equality Plan which in contrast focuses on equality objectives and equality practices, primarily for service users.

 

7.    The content of the draft policy was considered from the perspective of legislative requirements and organisational needs.  It was important to develop a policy that is easy to understand and encourages good practice.  

 

8.    It is also considered that training on equalities issues is key to implementing the equality policy effectively.  This is being addressed as part of the equality training strategy.

 

9.    Useful feedback has been received from a variety of sources on the draft policy.  The feedback and the responses to that feedback have been included as an appendix to the equality impact assessment.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.    This policy is intended to illustrate the Council's commitment to equality and advises and informs people what they can expect of the Council.  There are no resource implications arising from the guidance itself.  

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.    The equality duty contributes to the sustainable development principle of ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.    The Equality Act 2010 created a new public sector duty, replacing the race, disability and gender equality duties. The duty came into force in April 2011. The duty covers age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. Under the general duty, public sector organisations must have due regard to the need to:
  • eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
  • advance equality of opportunity between different groups;
  • foster good relations between different groups.

13.    The duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination also covers marriage and civil partnership.

 

14.    The Equality Act gives Welsh Ministers the power to impose specific duties through regulations. The specific duties are legal requirements designed to help public bodies meet the general duty. These were published in April 2011.  

 

15.    The Equality and Human Rights Commission published guidance on the public sector equality duty for Wales on 8 June 2011.  It will perform a regulatory role in ensuring that listed bodies comply with the duty.  

 

16.    The equality policy is intended to support the fulfilment of these obligations in conjunction with the Strategic Equality Plan, Welsh Language Scheme and other relevant policies.

Crime and Disorder Implications

17.    The policy will assist in promoting community cohesion by furthering the diverse needs of employees and local people and creating equal opportunity.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18.    The policy sets out the Council's commitment to equality and the standards it expects which will contribute to how it meets the general duty and public sector equality duty for Wales.  

 

19.    It refers to and complements the work identified in the Strategic Equality Plan and Welsh Language Scheme.

 

20.    Implications for protected groups are reflected in the equality impact assessment (Appendix B).

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.    It is a corporate priority, included in the Corporate Plan 2013 - 2017, to work with partners to promote good governance and ensure a coordinated approach to delivering the shared vision for the future of the Vale.  This policy supports each of the three associated improvement objectives:
  • to tackle those issues that matter most to local people, with customer focus at the heart of the council’s service delivery;
  • to provide leadership in representing and promoting the interests of the local community and engage effectively with citizens and stakeholders;
  • to promote through partnership working greater cooperation with other organisations that deliver services in the Vale, thereby improving the quality of life of its citizens.

22.    It is a corporate priority to manage the Council’s workforce, money, information and assets efficiently, effectively and securely.  This guidance supports the associated improvement objectives:

  • to provide effective corporate management and to improve the use of resources in meeting our strategic objectives;
  • to manage, support and develop our employees to enable them to deliver and maintain the Council’s services to the highest possible standard;
  • to make best use of our assets and to procure good, sustainable services and facilities.

Policy Framework and Budget

23.    This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.    The policy refers to various groups who we have consulted during its development.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.    Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Equality and Human Rights Commission Guidance on Equality Policies

Contact Officer

Nicola Hinton, Corporate Equalities Officer

Officers Consulted

Huw Isaac - Head of Performance and Development

Corporate Management Team

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director
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