There’s nothing that can make a business owner sweat quite like even a sniff of discrimination being put out in the open.
For good reason, too. Not only is it against the law and not only can it lead to heavy legal implications. Not only is it publicity of the worst kind. It can also destroy the cohesion of a workplace.
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The risks of allowing discrimination to persist in any way in the workplace are by no means acceptable. You need to know the different kinds so you can root them out.
Discrimination #1 – Harassment and Bullying
It’s one of the ugliest forms of discrimination and one that you can do the most against.
One of the most important priorities of any business should be to protect your employees. Make it clear in company policy that any form of harassment or bullying will not be tolerated.
Understand the definitions and create a rule set that is clear and well-publicised, including examples like sexual harassment, ostracizing behaviour, and hostile communication whether it’s face-to-face, on the phone or by any other medium.
Create safe methods that people can raise a complaint, a codified method of investigation and how infractions are to be dealt with.
Handle complaints with care, as well. People might be afraid to come forward, so you should aim to provide a safe and appropriate form of support with solid HR advice.
Look to solutions including sensitivity training and, if necessary, disciplinary actions.
Discrimination #2 – Opportunity
The employer can be as guilty of discrimination as the staff. The same goes for your management team. Whether it’s intentional or not, malicious or not, perceived discrimination is a real danger.
The first place to ensure you eliminate it in your own practices if how you offer opportunity.
For instance, in your hiring process, as much as listing preferred candidates that violate the Equality Act counts as discrimination.
You shouldn’t only push to be more equal in hiring, but opportunities inside the workplace as well. Everyone needs to have the same access to facilities in the business, as well as the same access to training and promotion.
Discrimination #3 – Pay
Now, gender pay gap 2016 rules are coming into effect, not only reinforcing the illegality of supporting a gender pay gap in the business but requiring employers to report on it every year.
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Equal pay to members of the team in the same position for the same amount of time is a crucial part of equality in the workplace. Not just in terms of gender, but in terms of race, age, disability and so on.
You might not track all the individual pay of your employees as much as you should so it’s important to put together a report and see if there are any inequalities that you can put right.
Discrimination #4 – Leave
Every employee is entitled to leave. However, some employees are entitled to leave under special circumstances that can lead to difficulties in the workplace.
As a business owner, you might find it difficult to deal with labour shortages, but it is your responsibility to make sure that you find a solution.
Employees with disability are legally entitled to disability leave, just as pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave.
Attempting to obstruct their ability to take that leave, or attempting any reprisals for them taking that leave is highly illegal as well as a highly insensitive.
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To lessen the load on your business, you and any employees who will be needing leave should talk about how to handle it.
Talk about their duties and figure out ways you can make up for the labour deficit.
Between automating, outsourcing, temping, and delegating, there are a lot of ways to temporarily accommodate them.
Discrimination #5 – Accessibility
For any employees with impaired mobility, if you don’t make reasonable adjustments to the workplace for the sake of accessibility, that is considered another form of discrimination.
You are legally required to make adjustments to remove any barriers that workers with disabilities might face.
This doesn’t just go for those you have employed, but you need to remove barriers that would stop workers with disabilities from applying for the job as well.
This might mean changing the ways that some duties are performed, making physical adjustments to the workplace, or providing extra support.
When you hire a candidate with a disability, make it known that they can talk to you about these adjustments. Failing to do so will put you in violation of the Equality Act.
Employers who care about equality and make active efforts to not only be vigilant in protect but to promote it will enjoy more than legal safety.
The respect of the team, the admiration of the consumer base, and a stronger workplace are some of the perks of doing the right thing.