Friday, 1 February 2013

Equality & Diversity News: February 2013

In this issue:

  • Stephen Lawrence murder: 20th anniversary to be marked
  • Catholic adoption agency faces loss of charitable status for discrimination against Gay adopters
  • Equal marriage on the way as Bill published
  • National Diversity Awards
  • Oaths and Promises: Air Cadets include non religious oath for first time
  • Anonymous application forms proposed to stop discrimination
  • Important changes to Employment Law and Practice
  • Discrimination law protection does not apply to volunteers
  • Disability discrimination
  • New Guidance on Pre-Employment Health Questionnaires issued
  • All the data you could need on ethnicity in the UK
  • Who are we? Results from the 2011 Census
  • 2013 Diversity Calendar

Stephen Lawrence murder: 20th anniversary to be marked

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has begun a campaign to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. Doreen Lawrence said she wants to ensure no other family has to go through what she endured. The campaign will include talking to new police commissioners and a memorial service on 22 April - the date Stephen was killed in Eltham in 1993.

The announcement comes exactly a year after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of his murder. Other events will include a concert planned for April, a criminal justice lecture, an annual memorial lecture and a gala ball.
The memorial service will be held at St Martin in the Fields church in Trafalgar Square.

Mrs Lawrence, who founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, said:

"It is hard to believe that 2013 will mark 20 years since Stephen died. This time last year we faced the conviction of two of Stephen's killers and the relief I felt then has stayed with me through the extraordinary year that was 2012. Despite this, our focus has to be on the next 20 years. There is more to be done to get justice for Stephen and to ensure that no other family has to go through what we endured."

Mrs Lawrence said the trust would campaign for fairer community policing.
She also continues to press for the tracing and arrest of others involved in the murder of her son.

During Dobson and Norris's trial, the court heard a gang of five or six white youths set upon the A-level student in Eltham, south-east London.
The Metropolitan Police faced criticism of the original investigation into Mr Lawrence's death. A public inquiry branded the force institutionally racist and claims were made by Mr and Mrs Lawrence's lawyers that some officers were influenced by Norris's former drugs baron father.

The breakthrough in the investigation came when a cold case team of forensic scientists found tiny traces of blood, hair and fibres on clothing seized from Dobson and Norris's homes.

Catholic adoption agency faces loss of charitable status for discrimination against Gay adopters

St Margaret's Children and Family Care Society in Glasgow was found to discriminate against homosexuals by giving higher priority to couples who have been married for at least two years. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) reviewed the practices of the adoption agency following a complaint from the National Secular Society.

Despite concluding the charity provides a valuable service to the public, its investigation found St Margaret’s was operating in breach of the Equality Act 2010. It has until April 22 to comply with the legislation or will lose its charitable status, which means it does not pay corporation tax and receives a substantial discount on its rates.

The OSCR report found the agency gives greater priority to prospective adoptive parents who are a couple, Catholic, married for at least two years and wish to adopt within the framework of the Catholic faith. 

As marriage is not yet available to Gay couples, the regulator ruled this “constitutes direct discrimination” and breached equality laws because access to the benefit the charity is providing is “unduly restricted”. “OSCR also finds that this discrimination causes disbenefit to same-sex couples. For these reasons OSCR finds that the charity does not provide public benefit and it therefore fails the charity test,” the report concluded. Martin Tyson, the regulator’s head of registration, said: "We acknowledge the valuable service provided by this charity, but the fact is that all charities must comply with the law, including the Equality Act 2010. Where we find this is not the case, we have a duty to act.”

Equal marriage on the way as Bill published

“Marriage of same sex couples is lawful”, begins the Government’s new Equal Marriage Bill, which will, amongst other things, make it legal for gay couples to marry in both civil and religious ceremonies.

Religious communities will not be forced to conduct ceremonies, but will be able to ‘opt-in’ to the new system. However, Church of England communities will not be permitted to opt in even if they want to. The next reading is in the House of Commons on 5 February. The Bill is summarised as follows:

A Bill to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas, and for connected purposes.

Marriages on religious premises will be lawful but only if (a) the ‘relevant governing authority’ (defined as “recognised by the members of the relevant religious organisation as competent for the purpose of giving consent for the purposes of this section”) has ‘opted in’ to the new system, and (b) the religious premises are related to the Church of England (section 4).

The Bill will insert a new provision into the Equality Act 2010 to make clear that there can be “no compulsion to solemnise” (s.2(5)), which means that nobody will be able to bring a claim under the Equality Act arguing that they should be allowed to marry on religious premises where the governing religious authority has not ‘opted in’.

National Diversity Awards

Nominations are now open for the National Diversity Awards 2013, which are supported by the Runnymede Trust. You can nominate individuals or groups for these awards in the following categories: Positive Role Model, Community Organisation, Entrepreneurs of Excellence, Diverse Company of the Year and Lifetime Achiever. For more information and to submit your nominations, please visit here.

Oaths and Promises: Air Cadets include non religious oath for first time

The decision of the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) to provide a non-religious oath for Air Training Corps cadets has been welcomed by the British Humanist Association. Currently, cadets only have the option to make a religious promise, usually at a ceremony presided over by the Unit Padre or Officer Commanding. There is no alternative for young people who are atheists and non-religious.

The proposal to provide an alternative, non-religious, oath is based on the argument that the Royal Air Force Air Training Corps (RAF ATC) should comply with national and European legislation and with Ministry of Defence policy on equality and diversity.
This small but important change comes as the Scout Association and Girlguiding UK both announced that they are consulting on changing their membership pledges to be inclusive to the non-religious. Currently, both groups require members to make a pledge ‘to do my duty to God’, in the case of the Scouts, or ‘to love my God’ with the Guides – with God being substitutable for some other deity.

Anonymous application forms proposed to stop discrimination

A Government report on the employment prospects of ethnic minorities has ensured that the notion of blank-name application forms is firmly back on the agenda. The study from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community in December 2012 discovered that women of black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage who ‘anglicised’ their names saw a 50% drop in the number of applications required before getting an interview.

In wake of the findings, the Group has encouraged businesses to use blank-name, anonymised applications forms that hide a candidate’s name, background and schooling from recruiters, with the hope that this will eliminate unconscious biases.

This is not the first time the idea has been proposed however, and it has proved very contentious in the past. In 2009, Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone tried to add a clause to the Equality Bill that would have made nameless CVs compulsory, citing the use of candidate numbers rather than names in school exams. A number of HR directors described the idea as “unworkable” though, and it was subsequently dropped.

During 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg asked firms signing up to his Business Compact on social mobility to “increase use of name-blank and school-blank applications” – but although more than 100 major employers have joined the scheme, the CV requirement was not obligatory and as a result there is no indication of take-up.

Explaining his doubts as to whether anonymous CVs would make a difference, Tim Baker, Manager of commerce & industry at global HR recruiter Frazer Jones, said: “The name is usually the first thing you look at when you open a CV, but any good recruiter will tell you that it’s a combination of experience, companies worked for and sometimes education that make a good CV. If you have this, the name and ethnic background is irrelevant.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, Neil Morrison, group HR Director at Random House, said: “Companies have a vested interest in employing the best person for the job, regardless of gender and ethnicity. But the parliamentary report is a sad reflection of how ethnic minority groups feel about their treatment by employers, and collectively we should be looking to change both perceptions and treatment.”

Important changes to Employment Law and Practice

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has announced/confirmed it is:
Separately, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced a new Health & Work Advisory and Assessment Service, to be introduced in 2014, providing (amongst other things) state funded occupational health testing for employees who are off sick for more than four weeks

The Ministry of Justice has also announced it is introducing an online service for the payment of employment tribunal fees. See:

According to the announcement, the facility to pay online will be available from July 2013 - suggesting fees will be introduced from then (August had formerly been mooted as the likely implementation date).

Discrimination law protection does not apply to volunteers

X – v - Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau and another [2012] UKSC 59

The Supreme Court has decided that the European General Framework Directive does not cover volunteer activity.

X worked as a volunteer for Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for 4 - 5 hours per week. She signed a volunteer agreement which said it was ‘binding in honour only and not a contract of employment or legally binding’. After a 9 month training period, X started giving advice. No records were kept of volunteer hours. About 25 - 30% of the time, X did not attend on the days she was expected. No objection was ever taken to this or to her changing her working days, however she was asked to cease being a volunteer.

She brought an employment tribunal case because she believed the reason she was asked to cease volunteering was related to her disability.

The employment judge rejected X’s claim, finding that she was not covered by discrimination law. She was not in ‘employment’ under the then Disability Discrimination Act 1995, because there was no contract between her and the CAB.  X appealed unsuccessfully to the EAT and the Court of Appeal. She appealed again to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal. It said it is clear that article 3(1)(b) of the Framework Directive is not directed towards voluntary activity and a reference to the Court of Justice to decide the matter would not be appropriate or necessary. The Supreme Court observed that ‘Any responsible organisation aims to combat discrimination on the grounds of disability - or indeed any other characteristic protected by the Equality Act 2010 - and will do so for the benefit of persons serving or wishing to serve as volunteers in the organisation no less than anyone else.’ But the appeal was not about this ‘moral imperative’. It was about the scope of domestic and European law.

Disability discrimination:

  • Tribunals must concentrate on what the person cannot do rather than on what they can do
  •   Impairments do not fit into a sliding scale: they are either trivial/minor or substantial

Aderemi v London and South Eastern Railway Ltd UKEAT/0316/12

A worker is ‘disabled’ under the Equality Act 2010 if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. There is statutory Guidance on matters to be taken into account in determining questions relating to the definition of ‘disability’, which helps advisers and tribunals decide whether a particular individual meets the definition.

Mr Aderemi was a station assistant at London Bridge until dismissed for capability. Due to a back impairment, he had difficulty standing on his feet for large parts of the day, which was what he was required to do for his job. At certain times, he could only stand for periods of 20- 25 minutes and was unable to undertake any bending or lifting. The tribunal decided that Mr Aderemi did not have a disability as defined by the Act.

The EAT overturned the decision and sent the case to a new tribunal to decide. The tribunal had wrongly focused on all the activities which Mr Aderemi could still do, instead of looking at what he was unable to do, which is the correct legal test. The tribunal also wrongly disregarded the evidence of the effect of his impairment on Mr Aderemi’s work activities.

Standing for a long period of time is required in many jobs and is therefore potentially a normal day-to-day activity.

The EAT also noted that under section 212(1), ‘substantial’ simply means more than minor or trivial. If an impairment has effects on a worker’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities which are more than minor or trivial, that is sufficient. The statutory guidance is misleading because it gives examples which on the one hand are thought to be ‘substantial’ and on the other hand are thought not to be ‘substantial’. It would be wrong to think there is a sliding scale between a substantial effect and a trivial effect.  There is not. The effect is either trivial/minor or it is covered as substantial.

New Guidance on Pre-Employment Health Questionnaires issued

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched new guidance around pre-employment questionnaires, and a research report examining:
·         The extent to which health related questions are still used by employer
·         Why employers continue to ask unlawful health questions
·         The extent to which employers are aware of their obligations under Section 60 of the Equality Act 2010
·         Whether disabled people are more likely to be asked health related questions.

Employers’ guidance is available here:

Job applicants' guidance is available here:

The research report is available here:

All the data you could need on ethnicity in the UK

Ethnicity is a complex concept that cannot be adequately captured by a simple classification. However, ethnic classifications provide a way of highlighting very important differences and inequalities between groups that need to be made explicit if they are to be recognised and addressed by policy-makers. The figures presented on these web-pages should be taken as a starting point for asking much deeper questions about the processes that underlie the observed differences, rather than an end in themselves.

This web site is designed to help you to locate data and information about ethnic difference and inequality in the UK. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) via the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) and is managed by the Population, Ethnicity, Religion and Migration (PERM) research group based at the University of Manchester.
Happy number-crunching!

Who are we? Results from the 2011 Census

The first statistics from the 2011 Census for England and Wales were released on 11 December 2012. They include analyses of international migration, ethnicity and national identity, religion, and the labour market. They can be accessed in full via the Office for National Statistics website.

2013 Diversity Calendar

The Equality and Diversity team at the London School of Economics has developed a diversity calendar for 2013. The images in the calendar were sourced through a photo competition that was held last year for LSE staff and students. See the calendar at:


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