Last review: April 2019
Review frequency: Yearly
Person responsible: Kush Verma
All law firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect, report and publish workforce diversity data about the diversity make-up of their workforce on an annual basis. We at Avisons are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. This applies to our professional dealings with clients and others.
Avisons Solicitors is committed to achieving a working environment which provides equality of opportunity and freedom from unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, pregnancy and maternity, marital or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, disability, religion or beliefs, age or sexual orientation. This policy aims to remove unfair and discriminatory practices within the firm and to encourage full contribution from its diverse community. The firm is committed to actively opposing all forms of discrimination.
The firm also aims to provide a service that does not discriminate against its clients and customers in the means by which they can access the services supplied by the firm. The firm believes that all employees and clients are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. It also makes good business sense for us to access all the talent available in the marketplace and a diverse firm will be well equipped to access and serve a diverse community.
In meeting our equality & diversity requirements, we regularly monitor the make-up of our workforce, and a summary of the data is available on request.
Objectives of this Policy
- To prevent, reduce and stop all forms of unlawful discrimination in line with the Equality Act 2010.
- To ensure that recruitment, promotion, training, development, assessment, benefits, pay, terms and conditions of employment, redundancy and dismissals are determined on the basis of capability, qualifications, experience, skills and productivity.
Name: Kush Verma
Position: Managing Director
Definition of Discrimination
Discrimination is unequal or differential treatment which leads to one person being treated more or less favourably than others are, or would be, treated in the same or similar circumstances on the grounds of race, sex, pregnancy and maternity, marital or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, disability, religion or beliefs, age or sexual orientation. Discrimination may be direct or indirect, and includes discrimination by perception and association.
Types of Discrimination
This occurs when a person or a policy intentionally treats a person less favourably than another on the grounds of race, sex, pregnancy and maternity, marital or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, disability, religion or beliefs, age or sexual orientation.
This is the application of a policy, criterion or practice which the employer applies to all employees but which is such that:
- It is it detrimental to a considerably larger proportion of people from the group that the person the employer is applying it to represents;
- The employer cannot justify the need for the application of the policy on a neutral basis; and
- The person to whom the employer is applying it suffers detriment from the application of the policy.
Example: A requirement that all employees must be 6ft tall if that requirement is not justified by the position would indirectly discriminate against employees with an oriental ethnic origin, as they are less likely to be able to fulfil this requirement.
This occurs when a person is subjected to unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
This occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they have bought or intend to bring proceedings or they have given or intend to give evidence.
Unlawful Reasons for Discrimination
It is not permissible to treat a person less favourably on the grounds of sex, marital status, civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, gender reassignment or transgender status. This applies to men, women and those undergoing or intending to undergo gender reassignment. Sexual harassment of men and women can be found to constitute sex discrimination.
Example: Asking a woman during an interview if she is planning to have any (more) children constitutes discrimination on the ground of gender.
It is not permissible to treat a person less favourably because of their age. This applies to people of all ages. This does not currently apply to the calculation of redundancy payments.
It is not permissible to treat a disabled person less favourably than a non-disabled person. Reasonable adjustments must be made to give the disabled person as much access to any services and ability to be employed, trained, or promoted as a non-disabled person.
It is not permissible to treat a person less favourably because of their race, the colour of their skin, their nationality or their ethnic origin.
It is not permissible to treat a person less favourably because of their sexual orientation. For example, an employer cannot refuse to employ a person because s/he is homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.
Religion or Belief
It is not permissible to treat a person less favourably because of their religious beliefs or their religion or their lack of any religion or belief.
Positive Action in Recruitment
We treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:
- sex (including pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
- marital or civil partnership status;
- gender reassignment;
- sexual orientation;
- race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
- religion or belief;
- age (or perceived age);
- caring responsibility; or
- disability (past or present).
We take all reasonable steps to ensure that the firm and its staff do not unlawfully discriminate under:
- the Equality Act 2010;
- the Employment Rights Act 1996;
- the Human Rights Act 1998;
- the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
- the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
- the Work and Families Act 2006;
- the Civil Partnership Act 2004; and
any other relevant legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services.
Wherever possible, we take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that we serve, in order to ensure that, subject to funding or other reasonable constraints, our services are accessible to all clients.
We do not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with experts and third parties. All experts and third parties are instructed from a register of experts and have been assessed by the firm as being capable of meeting both our firm’s and our clients’ requirements. Experts and third parties are instructed because they satisfy our selection criteria.
We treat all job applicants equally and fairly and do not unlawfully discriminate against them. We do this by ensuring that we operate an open and fair recruitment process, using selection criteria which do not discriminate, and making decisions based on individual qualities and personal merit. Recruitment and promotion within the firm is made solely on merit and everyone is treated equally and fairly and we do not unlawfully discriminate against them.
We consider all employees to be equal and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will, for example, include arrangements for employment, recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, conditions of service, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, dress code, work allocation and any other employment related activities.
We provide equality & diversity information to the Legal Aid Agency as required in relation to staff and clients under the terms of the LAA Contracts.
Kush Verma is responsible for implementing and monitoring our Equality & Diversity policy. In particular, he is responsible for:
- ensuring that adequate resources are available to meet equality and diversity needs;
- reporting on compliance;
- promoting a culture of equality and diversity awareness and compliance by means of education and training and overseeing arrangements for the sharing of information on equality and diversity informing staff of any new updates on equality and diversity including bulletins or articles published by regulators and/or in the legal press;
- providing assistance to any individual staff members who have been assigned responsibility for any specific equality and diversity actions;
- ensuring that appropriate action is taken in relation to any non-compliance identified under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities; and
- reviewing this policy annually to verify it is in effective operation.
Complaints and disciplinary issues
We treat seriously all complaints in relation to unlawful discrimination in breach of this policy made by any of our staff, clients, barristers, experts or other third parties and will take action where appropriate.
If a person wishes to make a complaint, they are directed to either our complaints procedure or our grievance procedure, depending on who is making the complaint.
If a third party is making a complaint, then that complaint is dealt with under our external complaints procedure.
In addition, and alongside any complaint, the complaint is investigated under our grievance procedure against the member of staff subject to the complaint. If the matter relates to a complaint regarding a policy or procedure which is in breach of this policy then that matter will be dealt with by the COLP.
In accordance with both the complaints procedure and the grievance procedure the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
If after a full investigation, it is found that a particular member of staff has breached this policy, and it is appropriate for that member of staff to be disciplined, then that matter will be dealt with under our disciplinary procedure which may mean that formal disciplinary proceedings may be instigated the member of staff.
We monitor and record, at least annually, equality & diversity information about job applicants and existing staff including key personnel on the basis of gender, age, disability and ethnic groups.
Every year, an equality and diversity form is completed by all employees to record equality and diversity information. In addition, we ask all job applicants who attend interviews to complete an equality and diversity form.
All staff members are informed of this policy as part of their induction. We identify additional equality and diversity training needs as and when appropriate and address them as part of staff members’ training plans. This includes the provision of annual update training on compliance with equality & diversity requirements..
All staff are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and the specific Outcomes within Chapter 2 of the SRA Code of Conduct and have personal responsibility for ensuring compliance with them when undertaking their jobs or representing our firm and which extends to their treatment of job applicants, existing or former employees, clients, external suppliers and/or visitors.
The firm has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate the employment of a disabled person. These may include:
- Making adjustments to premises;
- Re-allocating some or all of a disabled employee’s duties;
- Transferring a disabled employee to a role better suited to their disability;
- Relocating a disabled employee to a more suitable office;
- Giving a disabled employee time off work for medical treatment or rehabilitation;
- Providing training or mentoring for a disabled employee;
- Supplying or modifying equipment, instruction and training manuals for disabled employees; or
- Any other adjustments that the firm considers reasonable and necessary provided such adjustments are within the financial means of the firm.
If an employee has a disability and feels that any such adjustments could be made by the firm, they should contact the
If an employee has a disability and feels that any such adjustments could be made by the firm, they should contact the Designated Officer.
We are committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. We take steps to identify the needs of clients in the community and develop plans and procedures setting out how we will meet clients’ needs and for ensuring the services which we provide are accessible to all. We take account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English. In particular, we make reasonable adjustments to ensure that clients with a disability, vulnerability or particular need are not placed at a substantial disadvantage and do not pass on the costs of adjustments to these clients. We consider whether particular groups are predominant within our client base and, where possible, ensure that their needs are met.
The procedure for identifying and making reasonable adjustments for any person with a disability or vulnerability is as follows:
- Identify whether the client has a disability or a particular vulnerability or any other special needs
- Identify the impact of the disability, vulnerability or other need
- Undertake an evaluation of the impact the client’s disability or vulnerability or other need will have upon how the client will obtain our services and how that service will be delivered
- Make any reasonable adjustments in line with the normal parameters to accommodate the client
The following are reasonable adjustments that are available to us:
- If the client is disabled
- you can potentially arrange to have the meeting at their home or another convenient place for them
- Ensuring someone is available to assist the client if the client is hard of hearing or is unable to read or write
- Ensuring that someone is available to help the client enter and exit the building
- Disabled toilet facilities
- Ensuring someone is available to interpret if the client speaks a different language
- If a client is a minor making sure that an appropriate adult is present
This list is not exhaustive but if you are unsure about what adjustments to make you should seek advice from Kush Verma.
Advice and Support on Discrimination
Employees may contact their employee or trade union representative if access to such an individual is possible. Other contacts include:
Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Arndale Centre
3 More London
Riverside Tooley Street
3 Callaghan Square
The Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
Telephone (England): 0845 604 6610
Telephone (Wales): 0845 604 8810
Telephone (Scotland): 0845 604 5510
Citizens Advice Bureau
115-123 Pentonville Road
Community Legal Services Direct
Telephone: 0845 345 4 345
The Extent of the Policy
- The Company seeks to apply this Policy in the recruitment, selection, training, appraisal, development and promotion of all employees. The Company offers goods and services in a fashion that complies with the spirit of this Policy.
- This Policy does not form a part of any employment contract with any employee and its contents are not to be regarded by any person as implied, collateral or express terms to any contract made with the Company.
- The Company reserves the right to amend and update this Policy at any time
We are committed to ensuring that our policy remains effective. All members of staff are encouraged to make further suggestions in relation to initiatives we could undertake. If a member of staff has a suggestion, they should contact Kush Verma who is responsible for this policy.
Kush Verma reviews this policy at least annually to verify it is in effective operation.