With awareness of racial issues more prominent than ever, now is a good time to ensure that you are fully conversant with the relevant rules, regulation and legislation, as it applies to the care sector as it does any other…
Recent government figures show that a large proportion of ethnic minority workers make up the healthcare sector [GOV.UK: Employment by sector 15/5/20] that includes public administration, education and health so it is vital that anyone managing staff in the care sector handles any matters surrounding racial equality in the correct manner.
Protection against discrimination due to someone’s race is provided by the Equality Act 2010. Race discrimination, which has been illegal in the UK since 1976, occurs when someone is unfairly disadvantaged for reasons related to their race – this includes for their colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.
Factors at work that are protected by the Equality Act include:
- recruitment and selection
- training, pay and benefits
- redundancy and dismissal
- terms and conditions of work.
First let’s clarify the two types of discrimination: direct and indirect.
What is direct discrimination?
This is when a person is treated in a less favourable manner because of their race, when compared to others. For instance, if a care assistant or support worker of the same experience was paid less or expected to work less sociable hours, because of their race.
What is indirect discrimination?
This is when a particular provision or criteria puts a person of a certain race at a disadvantage, For example, if staff who don’t work on Saturdays are not eligible for promotion. If you have Jewish staff who observe the sabbath on Saturdays so are unable to work, that could be seen as indirect discrimination, as it disadvantages a racial group.
Changing attitudes within your organisation
Organisations that promote an open culture of respect and dignity for their employees, and who are shown to value difference are more likely to have acceptable attitudes among their workforce.
It is important to show by actions that you will address any racism in the workplace – deal with any matters that come to your attention as soon as possible.
Create an anti-racism culture by:
- Making it clear what your organisation’s values are, and also ensure it is clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy on racism
- Tackle ways of working across your organisation, from people management to operational matters, to ensure systemic racism is stamped out
- Ensure that any sustained action to challenge racism is shown to come from the managers and that it is clear that there is a commitment to change
- Carry out a critical appraisal of your people management system
- Ensure there are safe spaces to talk, to complain, to share experiences and so on
- Be transparent in what you are doing and ensure that there is the opportunity for two-way communication.
Claims of racism in the workplace
As an employer, you are responsible for making sure that discrimination does not happen in your workplace. If a member of your staff is accused of racism, be aware that you can be responsible – it is called ‘vicarious liability’.
The law requires you to do everything reasonably possible to protect your staff from racial discrimination. If an employee feels that you have not looked after them under your ‘duty of care’ towards your staff, and that they cannot continue to work within your organisation, they could have a case for constructive dismissal.
You must investigate any claim of harassment or discrimination, otherwise you could find yourself subject to an employment tribunal. By taking the claim seriously you send out a clear message that racism will not be tolerated, that employees can expect to be helped if there is a problem and show that you make the workplace a fair place to be.
It is also prudent to note that employers are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees ‘in the course of employment’.
It is also good practice to ensure that your staff are aware of any racial issues when it comes to caring for their clients and patients. ‘Race Equality in Health and Social Care’ from the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland is a useful document to review.
If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.