30.1 All parties to this agreement commit to building a NHS workforce which is valued and whose diversity reflects the communities it serves, enabling it to deliver the best possible healthcare service to those communities. The NHS will strive to be a leader in good employment practice, able to attract and retain staff from diverse backgrounds and communities.
30.2 The parties will strive to ensure that:
- everyone working in the NHS should be able to achieve his or her full potential, in an environment characterised by dignity and mutual respect;
- the past effects of institutional discrimination are identified and remedial action taken;
- equality of opportunity is guaranteed;
- individual difference and the unique contribution that individual experience, knowledge and skills can make is viewed positively;
- job descriptions, person specifications and the terms and conditions of service fit with the needs of the service and those who work in it, regardless of age, disability, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, gender, pregnancy or maternity, marriage or civil partnership, religion, beliefs, sexual orientation, domestic circumstances, social and employment status, HIV status, gender reassignment, political affiliation or trades union membership.
Making it happen
30.3 To achieve these goals all parties to this agreement will ensure that:
- everyone who works in the NHS knows about these agreements and what they say;
- everyone knows what their responsibilities are in relation to equality and diversity and these are reflected in individual KSF outlines and development reviews;
- steps taken to promote equality and diversity are monitored;
- appropriate training is provided. This will include appropriate equality and diversity training for all staff and relevant skills based training for line managers and others who play a key role in implementing equality and diversity policy;
- appropriate resources where appropriate, are made available to achieve these aims;
- the boards of NHS trusts (of NHS boards in Scotland) and other NHS organisations and senior managers will demonstrate their commitment and accountability for implementing these aims by measuring and monitoring progress through their equality schemes;
- the NHS will encourage other organisations, such as local authorities, education providers, contractors and recruitment agencies, to work in partnership with the service to achieve the aims of this agreement, including the application of its commissioning and procurement activities.
Monitoring and review
30.4 The NHS Staff Council will keep this agreement under review against best practice, as it develops, inside the NHS and elsewhere.
30.5 NHS employers and local staff representatives should review their local arrangements to ensure they produce outcomes that are consistent with this agreement. Annual ‘equality audits’ are recommended, and these should include a review of:
- workforce data by race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age and contract status (i.e. part time);
- existing equality policies and procedures and any gaps requiring the development of new arrangements;
- data on pay and grading by race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age and contract status i.e. part-time.
30.6 Where under-representation of particular groups is identified, employers should take advantage of the positive action provisions in the discrimination legislation, assuming that the detailed conditions in the legislation are met.
30.7 Where the term “requires” is used in this agreement, this denotes a requirement set down in law.
30.8 Where “should” is used, this denotes that there is a national agreement to that effect.
30.9 The agreements contained in this Part of the Handbook should be taken as policy by NHS employers. Any advice on best practice should be taken as being recommended by the NHS Staff Council.
30.10 Where it is recommended that employers and local staff representatives agree arrangements, any advice on best practice is there for guidance.
30.11 Each of the key areas to be addressed are contained in this handbook at Sections 31 to 36, as follows:
- Section 31: Recruitment, promotion and staff development;
- Section 32: Dignity at work;
- Section 33: Caring for children and adults;
- Section 34: Flexible working arrangements;
- Section 35: Balancing work and personal life;
- Section 36: Employment break scheme.
30.12 This agreement has been developed based on the legal minima and best practice and policy, thereby anticipating the need for change. There still remains significant scope to develop local procedures to inform action.
30.13 Some NHS employers will have established procedures which have been agreed with their local staff representatives. Where such procedures are consistent with the principles outlined in this agreement, these should not be disturbed. However, local agreements should be reviewed and updated in light of legal and best practice.