Potter Rees Dolan Serious Injury Solicitors is fully committed to a policy of treating all persons equally. The Firm will avoid unlawful discrimination in all aspects of its professional dealings including employment recruitment and selection, promotion, transfer, opportunities for training, pay and benefits, other terms of employment, discipline and grievance, selection for redundancy, dismissal, engaging suppliers, experts, barristers and in all its dealings with clients, other lawyers, witnesses and other third parties
The Firm will take all reasonable steps to ensure all its professional dealings any ‘protected characteristic’.
The 9 protected characteristics, as defined in the Equality Act 2010 are:
- Gender reassignment,
- Marriage and civil partnership,
- Pregnancy and maternity,
- Race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins),
- Religion or belief,
- Sexual orientation.
The Firm will also take all reasonable steps to provide an environment in which all persons are treated with respect and dignity and that is free from harassment and bullying upon age, disability, gender reassignment, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. In this policy, these are known as ‘anti-harassment protected characteristics’.
EXAMPLES OF DISCRIMINATION:
Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a ‘protected characteristic’ they have or are thought to have (see perceptive discrimination below), or because they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic (see associative discrimination below).
The firm will take all reasonable steps to eliminate direct discrimination in all aspects of employment and professional dealings.
Indirect discrimination is treatment that may be equal in the sense that a Provision, Criteria or Practice (PCP) the firm has which applies to all persons but which is discriminatory because it has an effect on, for example, one particular protected characteristic.
The firm will take all reasonable steps to eliminate indirect discrimination in all aspects of employment and professional dealings.
This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.
The firm will take all reasonable steps to eliminate associative discrimination in all aspects of employment and professional dealings.
This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic. It applies even if that person does not actually possess the protected characteristic.
The firm will take all reasonable steps to eliminate perceptive discrimination in all aspects of employment and professional dealings.
1. Recruitment, advertising and selection of employees
The recruitment process will be conducted in such a way as to result in the selection of the most suitable person for the job in terms of relevant experience, abilities and qualifications. The Firm is committed to applying its equal opportunities policy statement at all stages of the recruitment and selection process.
The selection of new staff will be based on the job requirements and the individual’s suitability and ability to do, or to train for, the job in question.
With disabled job applicants, the Firm will have regard to its duty to make reasonable adjustments to work provisions, criteria and practices or to physical features or work premises or to provide auxiliary aids or services to ensure that the disabled person is not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.
The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group.
2. Selection of Barristers and other Experts:
The firm will select Barristers, medical experts and other professional third parties directly from the Firm’s Experts Register which is maintained and updated regularly on the firm’s intranet. This is a list of proven and/or highly recommended medical experts, barristers and other professionals that have been selected based purely on professional recommendation, expertise, experience and/or proven track records of providing an excellent service on legal matters.
A client’s requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to The Firm’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately.
The Firm will discuss with the client any request by the client that only a barrister with or without a particular Protected Characteristic be instructed. In the absence of a valid reason for this request, which must be within the exemptions permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation, the Firm will endeavour to persuade the client to modify their instructions in so far as they are given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, the Firm will cease to act.
The Firm will not discriminate, either directly or indirectly, when appointing an expert, barrister or other professional third party and will do so without regard to any protected characteristic.
3. Training, promotion and career development
Promotion within the Firm will be made without unlawfully discriminating and will be based solely on merit.
All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities and will encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.
The Firm will comply with its duty to make adjustments for disabled employees.
4. Terms of business, employment, benefits, facilities and provision of services
All terms of business, employment, benefits, facilities and provision of services will be reviewed from time to time in order to ensure that there is no unlawful direct or indirect discrimination because of one or more of the protected characteristics.
5. Equal pay
The Firm is committed to equal pay in employment. It believes its male and female employees should receive equal pay for like work, work rated as equivalent or work of equal value. In order to achieve this, the Firm will endeavour to maintain a pay system that is transparent, free from bias and based on objective criteria.
6. Promoting equality and diversity
The Firm will train all partners and managers in the Firm’s policy on Equal Opportunities and in helping them identify and deal effectively with discriminatory acts or practices or acts of harassment or bullying. Managers will be responsible for ensuring they actively promote equal opportunity throughout the Firm.
The Firm will also provide training to its employees to help them understand their rights and responsibilities to equal opportunities and dignity at work and what they can do to create an environment that is free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.
All trained staff and others working on the firms behalf, will be expected to pay due regard to this policy when representing the Firm.
The Firm will make every effort to show its commitment to equality and diversity in its marketing, practice development and communication activities (including its website, email, and advertising literature).
7. Monitoring and implementing the policy
The ultimate responsibility for ensuring this policy is implemented across the firm lies with the Directors. The Compliance Office for Legal Practice will have overall responsibility for implementing the policy through training and promotion.
All employees and Directors are expected to pay due diligence to the provisions of its equality and diversity policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when representing The Firm.
Unlawful acts of discrimination or harassment by employees or Directors of The Firm will result in disciplinary action. Failure to comply with this policy will be treated in a similar way.
The policy applies to all who are employed in The Firm and to all Directors and forms part of the staff handbook.
Unlawful acts of discrimination or harassment by those acting on behalf of The Firm will lead to appropriate action including termination of services where appropriate.
Reporting and handling of Complaints of discrimination
All allegations of discrimination or harassment will be dealt with seriously, confidentially and speedily. The Firm will not ignore or treat lightly grievances or complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment made by employees, Partners, clients, barristers or other third parties.
All complaints will be investigated in accordance with The Firm’s grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
MONITORING AND REVIEW
The Firm will regularly monitor the effects of selection decisions both in employee recruitment and the selection of third party experts, barristers etc and personnel and pay practices and procedures in order to assess whether equal opportunity and dignity at work are being achieved. This will also involve considering any possible indirectly discriminatory effects of its working practices. If changes are required, the Firm will implement them. The Firm will also make reasonable adjustments to its standard working practices to overcome substantial disadvantages caused by disability.
The policy will be monitored and reviewed annually by the Practice Manager and Compliance Officer for Legal Practice to measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. In particular, the Practice Manager will, as appropriate, monitor and record:
- The age, sexual orientation, gender and ethnic composition of the workforce and Directors as well as the number of disabled staff at different levels of the organisation.
- The age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contract.
- The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants for promotion (including to the role of Director) and training opportunities and details of whether they were successful.
- The number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by staff, Directors, barristers, clients and other third parties.
- The disciplinary action (if any) taken against employees by race, sex, age and disability.
- The salary levels (including awarded bonus amounts) of both male and female employees, and also by any other Protected Characteristic.
- Any new Policy or Practice put into place that could result in disadvantaging employees as a result of a Protected Characteristic.
This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the equality and diversity policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.
Drafted October 2010
Updated June 2016