The Council as an employer seeks to act in a way which meets the objectives of the Equality Duty by having due regard to eliminating discrimination, ensuring equality of opportunity and promoting positive working relationships between all its employees.
This means that the Council considers these aims as part of its decision making process. This is reflected in the way in which it ensures that, prior to making a decision or introducing or reviewing policies or practices, it gives due regard to equality issues through gathering and considering information about who may be affected. Should there be evidence of a possible negative impact on employees with a protected characteristic it will give proper consideration to the extent, nature and duration of the impact and consider whether this can be eliminated, mitigated or justified.
Employees are involved and consulted with through Unison representatives, Joint Staff Consultative Committee (JSCC) and the Equalities Group.
The Equality Duty and Employees
The following are some recent examples of how regard to equalities has impacted on decisions made by the Council:
• Extending its policy on the Right to Request Flexible Working to all employees to help meet the wider needs of its diverse workforce.
• Recent budget cuts resulted in the Authority considering a wide range of changes to Terms and Conditions in order to make savings. Equality impact assessments were undertaken and used to help influence the decisions on which changes would be progressed. The outcome was that Essential Car User allowance was removed from 1 January 2012, something that had been highlighted in the Equal Pay Audit undertaken in the autumn 2010 as being an area where there was a significant gender imbalance.
• Continuation of its commitment to support applicants for posts who have a disability through offering interviews for any who meet the essential criteria. Questions are included on applications forms to ascertain any reasonable adjustments they may require in order to ensure that they have the opportunity to access a fair application and selection interview process.
Mendip District Council Workforce Profile
The profile of the workforce is a snapshot as at 31 December 2011. this data will be updated on an annual basis.
Due to the small headcount (less than 200 employees) figures have been given for the whole Council and in percentages to protect individual,s identities from being revealed.
Identified Future Improvements
The following actions have been identified as areas for improvement by the Council:
• JSCC to have an equality representative to ensure employees with protected characteristics have a means to raise any issues through this consultative body.
• Improve future response rates to questions on Sexual Orientation and Religious Belief by explaining why the information is being collected and how will be used.