Ensuring All Met Officers Have Equal Opportunities At Work

Ensuring All Met Officers Have Equal Opportunities At Work

Ask people what the word equality means to them and ‘fairness’ is a common reply, as is ‘equality of opportunity.’
Everyone should be allowed to start from a level playing field, even if some adjustments need to be allowed. A good example is dyslexia and allowing sufferers more time to complete promotion exams.
Defining equality depends on individual circumstances, but the Equality Act 2010 merged nine key parts of older legislation and now provides protection against discrimination connected with what are defined as ‘protected characteristics’. 
These characteristics are: disability; gender; religion; race; gender re-assignment; marriage and civil partnerships; age; maternity status; and sexual orientation.
Discrimination will mainly fall into these categories, directly or indirectly.
 
Reasonable Adjustments
The MPS has a legal duty to ensure officers and staff are not discriminated against if they fall into one or more of the protected groups and to ensure that people are treated fairly. 
Equality of opportunity and reasonable and viable adjustments should be made for them. 
All of this brings multiple challenges for us, especially with the reduction in staffing numbers within the MPS. 
It’s about ensuring the needs of individuals are accommodated and that the necessary adjustments are made so they can do their jobs.
How We Help You
A great deal of hard work goes on behind the scenes by a lot of dedicated people. 
Back in 2009, I started a ‘ladies forum’ where we discussed the menopause and how it affects female officers. The subject is now out in the open and guidance and regulations for forces are being looked at.
It’s no longer a taboo subject and improving things for older women and empowering their managers to talk about it is happening through training and support. 
The workforce is ageing too, and the organisation needs to adapt to this.
I’ve submitted a legal challenge around a potential flaw in the Maternity Policy and its possible implications regards maternity pay. I’ll update everyone when an outcome of this is available.
If officers are found to have been disadvantaged, then the Metropolitan Police Federation will take matters further and seek to address any failings.
Work groups are now in place to ensure the grievance procedure does not disadvantage or hinder people in the organisation who may have been reluctant to submit a complaint. 
There is still more work that can be done to improve the process but the Metropolitan Police Federation will continue to be involved to help support our members. 
I’m pleased to say that a group of officers and staff have been trained to mentor and support these officers.
We have sought legal advice about the Job-Related Fitness Test (JRFT) regarding its fairness and how it affects some protected groups. This is ongoing, but there have been some improvements.
Last month I was part of a legal team which will make a great deal of difference in the application of the Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure (UPP) in respect of JRFT failures. 
This outcome, which basically affected disability, gender and ethnic background will, without doubt, become a ‘stated case’.
 
The Future
The big challenge is, of course, the smaller and leaner Metropolitan Police Service and how we continue to serve the needs of the public.
How do we make sure that people who are covered by the Equality Act are looked after?
People from all backgrounds and those who have protected characteristics play a vital role in our organisation. We all bring our own special qualities to the table and contribute no matter what, whether fully fit or otherwise. 
It is this diversity which still makes us stand head and shoulders above other organisations – we must not lose that.
The Metropolitan Police Federation were instrumental in the recent decision made by the MPS on the X-Factor 8% reduction not being removed from Adjusted Duties officers. Had this decision not been made, your Federation was ready to challenge.
 
Changing Times
The Met Police Federation has modernised and will work differently in the future. 
What won’t change is the continued commitment to members, especially when it comes to equality. 
With new tech, remote working and new working practices, thinking about solutions to problems will need careful scrutiny, especially for reasonable adjustments.
The Metropolitan Police Federation will continue to support all officers that find themselves the subject of any Equality or Diversity issues.
 
By Anne Shuttleworth, Equality Lead, Metropolitan Police Federation
 
See the Metropolitan Police Federation's annual report here: http://online.pubhtml5.com/ncsw/ojvj/