Equal Opportunities Policy

1. Introduction

The Northern College of Acupuncture recognises the positive benefits of maintaining an Equal Opportunities Policy for all its students, staff, patients and visitors and the organisation as a whole and that it is essential to provide equal opportunities to all persons without discrimination.

This policy is designed to ensure that not only does the College comply with obligations under anti-discrimination legislation to ensure that all of our students, staff, patients and visitors are able develop their full potential and talents but strives to be a leader in equality of opportunity and an example of best practice. It exists to define the general policy of the Northern College of Acupuncture with regard to equal opportunities and to describe the organisational structure which exists for the maintenance, monitoring and pursuit of equal opportunities.

This policy exists to:

  • Ensure that the Northern College of Acupuncture carries out its activities within a framework that respects and promotes equal opportunities, and alongside legislative requirements.
  • Ensure that the Northern College of Acupuncture is pro-active in promoting equality of opportunity.
  • Make explicit the rights and responsibilities of all students and staff.
  • Commit the Northern College of Acupuncture to monitoring the implementation of this policy and the evaluation of its effectiveness.

2. Statutory Requirements

This policy is in accordance with the relevant legislation concerning discrimination, including but not limited to:

  • Equality Act 2010

Other relevant legislation includes:

  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002
  • Part-time workers (Prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations 2000 and 2002
  • The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations 2002
  • Maternity and Parental leave regulations 1999, 2001 and 2002
  • Paternity and Adoption leave regulations 2002

3. Protected Characteristics:

There are nine protected characteristics which are covered by equality and diversity guidelines and legislation and these are:

  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Sex
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Disability, including learning disabilities, mental health concerns and temporary disabilities
  • Race, ethnic origins or racial identity
  • Religion and belief
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity

In addition to these Protected Characteristics the College also considers the following to be characteristics which should be protected by the College:

  • Mode of study/work including part time and distant learners/workers
  • Those with caring responsibilities and/or dependants
  • Those affiliated to a trade association
  • Socio-economic status or history
  • The status and form of someone’s personal relationship(s)

The law of the land will always take precedence over the characteristics detailed in section 3. 

4. Equal Opportunities Statement of Intent:

The Northern College of Acupuncture, herein the College, is committed to encouraging and ensuring fairness and equality of opportunity for all during their association with the College.

The College celebrates, promotes and values the diversity brought to it by individuals, and believes that it will benefit from engaging students and staff from a variety of backgrounds by meeting the needs of a diverse membership. The College will treat all applicants, students, patients and staff with respect and dignity, and seek to provide an environment to work, learn and live in free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

The College opposes practices which, directly or otherwise, discriminate against, harass or victimise those who fall into the protected characteristics.

The College will ensure that individuals are treated solely on the basis of their merits and abilities.

The College will act to ensure staff and students will receive equal and unbiased representation, access to services, and be free from harassment, irrespective of whether or not they fall within the protective characteristics. The protected characteristics list is not an exhaustive one and although a section of the College may not be mentioned above, that does not mean that they are not covered by this policy.

The College not only prides itself on promoting equal opportunities, but pledges to campaign against discrimination, harassment and victimisation both in College and in the wider society.

In seeking to achieve this vision, the College will strive to:

  • Deliver equality of opportunity for all applicants, staff, students, patients and 3rd parties that may come into contact with us.
  • Make this policy known to all applicants, staff, students and partner organisations.
  • Eliminate any conditions, procedures and individual behaviour that can lead to discrimination, harassment and victimisation even where there was no intent to discriminate, whilst recognising that individuals may experience disadvantage on more than one level.
  • Offer services and representation fairly to all staff and students and ensure that anyone in contact with the organisation is treated with respect.
  • Work proactively to involve students and staff in its activities who are typically under-represented or under-supported or systematically oppressed.
  • Provide a working and learning environment in compliance with all relevant legislation. This policy will be amended as appropriate to meet the demands of future legislation. This College’s policy is guided by all current and relevant legislation.
  • Achieve a culture in which diversity is embedded in all the College’s activities.
  • Ensure mechanisms are in place for responding to complaints of discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Monitor practices regularly to ensure that the College meets its commitment to equality of opportunity.

5. Areas of Responsibility

The College recognises that all of its students and staff have a duty to support and uphold the principles contained in its Equal Opportunities Policy and supporting policies. The commitment of all members of the College’s community is required to make the policy a success.

The Equal Opportunities Policy is the responsibility of every member of the College. However, those who hold management, supervisory or other senior positions, and student representatives in the organisation have additional and particular responsibilities to ensure the effectiveness of its application and that all staff and students are aware of its implementation.

The development, implementation and operation of the Equal Opportunities Policy are the responsibility of the Board of Directors and Senior Management Team within the College. The Board of Directors has overall responsibility for ensuring that the College operates within a framework of equality of opportunity.

6. Equal Opportunity in Study Provision

The College understands that the needs of different groups vary and will therefore strive to provide according to need, which in some cases will result in different provisions.

The College recognises the right for students to form associations of interest and to debate freely, providing this does not trespass on the freedoms of others to do the same.

The College is committed to making our service provision accessible to all students. All reasonable adjustments will be made to enable this. Where offices are inaccessible, staff and elected officers will endeavour to find alternative space for meetings and events in order not to exclude any interested party. Any alterations to and/or development of the College building shall occur with improving access as a requirement, as far as practicable and within the constraints of listed building and planning regulations.

7. Equal Opportunities in Employment

Advertisements for posts will give sufficiently clear and accurate information to enable potential applicants to assess their own suitability for the post. Information about vacant posts will be provided in such a manner that does not restrict its audience in terms of sex, gender reassignment, race, marital status, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy/maternity or any other irrespective difference.

All descriptions and specifications for posts will include only requirements that are necessary and justifiable for the effective performance of the job.

All selection will be thorough, conducted against defined criteria and will deal only with the applicant´s suitability for the job.

All advertisements that are placed in publications (including electronic publications) will indicate that the College is committed to effective implementation of an equal opportunities policy and welcomes applications from all sectors of the community. The College therefore recognises that advertising in a range of publications may be necessary in order to reach all sectors of the community.

When applying for employment, all job applicants are considered having regard only to their individual aptitudes, abilities, knowledge, experience and qualifications in the relation to the job as stated in the job description and person specification.

No method of recruitment that might unfairly exclude any potential applicant from being recruited will be used.

All staff will be given equal consideration for training, career development and promotion. Staff are encouraged to develop themselves through training and to obtain qualifications that are appropriate to their employment.

Staff have the right to raise a query or grievance that they have concerning the application of this policy, initially with their line manager.

All staff members have a clear obligation to ensure that this policy is effective with regard to equal opportunities and the absence of discrimination. They must not harass or intimidate others. Severe action will be taken against anyone who breaches this policy.

8. Training

The College will ensure that all staff have the training and development opportunities which they need to enable them to achieve the College's objectives. The College will ensure that all staff training and development activity is linked to individual and organisational objectives and that staff are treated equitably.

All new staff and students are made aware of the Equality Opportunities Policy at Induction and during the various training sessions run at the beginning of the term or period of engagement.

9. Staff Responsibility

Individuals at all levels must accept personal responsibility in relation to this Policy for the application of the principle of equal opportunities to all within the workplace. Individuals personally and the College could both be found liable for any acts of discrimination within the College.

Staff must not discriminate against fellow staff members, students, contractors, job applicants, student applicants or patients in the course of their engagement with the College and are required to draw to the attention of the Principal any apparent instances of discrimination.

10. Staff Grievances

10.1. Informal Procedure

Staff who believe that they are being discriminated against on any of the grounds specified in this Policy should keep a record of any such instances of discrimination. They should

write down what happened, where and when it happened, how they felt at the time and whether there were any witnesses to the discrimination and the identity of such witnesses.

If staff member feels able to, they should speak to the offender and make it clear that the behaviour is unacceptable and must stop. If a staff member feels unable to deal with the situation informally then they should follow the formal procedure below.

10.2. Formal Procedure

Where the informal procedure fails, or it is impracticable in the circumstances to follow it, or where serious discrimination occurs staff members should bring the matter to the attention of their immediate line-manager. Where the staff member’s immediate line-manager is the person about whom the staff member wishes to complain, the staff member should bring the matter to the attention of the Principal. If the Principal is the person about whom the staff member wishes to complain, the staff member should bring the matter to the attention of the College Manager.

The formal complaint should be made in writing and should contain:

  • The name of the alleged offender.
  • The nature of the alleged discrimination.
  • Dates and times when the alleged discrimination occurred.
  • The names of any witnesses to the alleged discrimination.
  • Any action already taken by the staff member to stop the alleged discrimination.

A confidential discussion will then take place between the staff member and the line-manager, or Principal if appropriate to discuss the staff member’s complaint and in order that they can explain the procedure to be followed. The staff member can be accompanied at this meeting by a work colleague of their choice.

Upon receipt of a formal complaint and after the meeting set out above has taken place the College will appoint an investigating officer who will carry out a full investigation of the complaint, which may include interviewing the alleged offender and any witnesses named by the staff member in his or her complaint.

If necessary the College will take action to ensure that the complainant and the alleged offender do not work together until such time as the formal procedure has reached a conclusion. In situations where the alleged bullying or harassment could amount to serious misconduct the alleged offender may be suspended from duty until the formal procedure has reached a conclusion.

All staff members involved in the investigation must respect the need for confidentiality and they will be advised of this during their interview. Failure to respect confidentiality could result in disciplinary action.

The alleged offender may be accompanied at every meeting by a colleague of their choice.

In cases where the investigating officer concludes that the complaint is well-founded the offender will be subject to the College’s disciplinary proceedings as set out in the Disciplinary and Grievance Policy as detailed in the Staff Handbook.

In cases where the investigating officer concludes that the complaint is not well-founded but has been made in good faith no action will be taken against the complainant.

In cases where the investigating officer concludes that the complaint is not well-founded and has not been made in good faith the complainant may be subject to the College’s disciplinary proceedings as set out in its Disciplinary and Grievance Policy. Reports and monitoring action will be taken and will be submitted regularly to the line-manager of the staff member making the complaint.

11. External Contractors, Agencies and Other Organisations

This Equal Opportunities Policy extends to all users of the premises including contractors and other agencies. It is therefore procedure for external parties to be given a copy of this policy. We ask that external parties abide by the conditions within this policy at all times.

Failure to do so could result in individuals being asked to leave if their behaviour is deemed inappropriate and/or offensive by any member of the College.

12. Students, Applicants and 3rd Party Complaints

The College takes equal opportunities extremely seriously. If any student has any cause to believe that any aspect of this policy has not been adhered to, they can raise their concern in writing to the College Manager and applicants and 3rd parties can raise their concern in writing to the Principal. All complaints will be investigated thoroughly and may result in action being taken under the College’s student or staff disciplinary procedure. Serious breaches of this policy could result in dismissal from employment at the College.

13. Monitoring and reviewing

The College will establish effective monitoring, reviewing and record-keeping systems to ensure effective implementation and development of this Policy. Reports on monitoring and action taken will be submitted annually to the Board of Directors and Boards of Study.

14. Disclaimer

By producing this Policy, we are not implying or accepting that we have not sought to apply fair standards of practice in the past. On the contrary we have always done our best to practice the highest possible standards in this area, but we do recognise the need to constantly examine policy and practice to reflect changing standards and expectations.

The formulation of this policy has not been prompted by any allegations of unfairness or inequality being practised by the College or its staff or students. This policy is functioning entirely in accordance with the law at all times.

We recognise that there are many types of discrimination and this policy, (as well as related documents) does not attempt to address them all. The aim of the College is to ensure that a framework of equal opportunities exists so that any form of discrimination can be addressed as the need arises.

Date of policy: January 2013 reviewed by: Resources Committee May 2017 and approved with no changes Next review: May 2019