NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy
NARPO House, 38 Bond Street, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 2QP
Main Tel: 01924.362166 Fax: 01924 372088
Vat Reg No: 656.2938.04
BRANCH CIRCULAR 03/2020
To: All Branch Secretaries
31st January 2020
NARPO EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY
Following an issue rightly raised by a local NARPO Branch, the NEC have now had the opportunity to obtain legal advice in respect of:
- Whether the Equality Act 2010 applies to NARPO when interacting with members.
- If the Equality Act does apply what steps NARPO needs to take to ensure compliance.
- The consequences for NARPO, the NEC or any NARPO branch of a failure to comply.
That full legal advice and a proposed NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy were considered by the NEC in their meeting last week, where the NEC Unanimously agreed to adopt the proposed NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy immediately.
This EO Policy reinforces the current NARPO Rules and applies to both NARPO HQ and to local NARPO Branches.
The summary to that legal advice concludes that:
The Equality Act applies to NARPO and its interaction with members and prospective members. NARPO should consider:
- Undertaking a review of its provisions, criteria and practices to check whether they could directly or indirectly discriminate against any individual with a protected characteristic.
- If there are any provisions, criteria or practices which could discriminate to review whether these can be objectively justified. If they cannot be objectively justified to change to ones which can be.
- Ensure that any review of provisions, criteria and practices includes the provision of services or third-party benefits to members.
- To agree and publish an Equal Opportunities Policy and ensure all members, branches and branch officials are aware of this policy.
It is particularly relevant that I draw Branches attention to the legal advice and the part entitled:
THE CONSEQUENCES FOR NARPO OF FAILING TO COMPLY
The NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy and legal advice are shown below.
Chief Executive Officer
NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy
NARPO EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED POLICE OFFICERS
1. Equal opportunities statement
2. About this policy
3. Responsibility for this policy
5. Applications for Membership
6. Termination of Membership
7. Termination of Employment
9. Breaches of this policy by Members
10. Breaches of this policy by Employees
11. Related policies
1. EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES STATEMENT
The National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO) is committed to promoting equal opportunities for all members. All members will receive equal treatment regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation (Protected Characteristics). (NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy).
2. ABOUT THIS POLICY
2.1 The NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy sets out our approach to equal opportunities and the avoidance of discrimination. It applies to all aspects of membership with us, including applications for membership, partaking in all activities of the organisation, training, (disciplinary and grievance procedures for employees) and termination of membership.
2.2 This policy covers all members, employees and officers of the organisation.
3. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS POLICY
3.1 The NEC has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy and for ensuring compliance with discrimination law. Day-to-day operational responsibility for this policy including regular review of this policy, has been delegated to the CEO.
3.2 All NEC members, branch officials and members must set an appropriate standard of behaviour, lead by example and ensure that all others, including other members adhere to the policy and promote our aims and objectives with regard to equal opportunities. Officials will communicate this policy to all members by the NARPO communication channels and ensure equal opportunity in all activities and practices of the organisation. The NEC and Branch Officials will be given appropriate training on equal opportunities awareness and equal opportunities for current members and for new members applications. The NEC has overall responsibility for equal opportunities training.
3.3 Members should speak to a branch official about the implementation or any breaches of this policy or depending on the seriousness and urgency of the issue to a member of the NEC. Employees should speak the CEO.
3.4 If you are involved in managing the organisation or applications by new members, or if you have any questions about the content or application of this policy, you should contact the CEO to request training or further information.
3.5 This policy is reviewed every three years by the NEC. Recommendations for change should be reported to CEO or the NEC.
3.6 All Branch officials and members are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved by contacting a Regional Representative. Staff should contact the CEO.
4.1 You must not unlawfully discriminate against or harass other people including current and former members, prospective members, officials, staff, suppliers and visitors. This applies when taking part in any aspect of the organisation whether internal or external and on membership related trips or events including social events.
4.2 The following forms of discrimination are prohibited under this policy and are unlawful:
(a) Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of a Protected Characteristic. For example, rejecting a prospective member because of their religious views.
(b) Indirect discrimination: a provision, criterion or practice that applies to everyone but adversely affects people with a particular Protected Characteristic more than others and is not justified. For example, requiring an officer’s role to be done full-time rather than part-time would adversely affect women because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement would be discriminatory unless it can be justified.
(c) Harassment: this includes sexual harassment and other unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Harassment is dealt with further in our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.
(d) Victimisation: retaliation against someone who has complained or has supported someone else’s complaint about discrimination or harassment.
(e) Disability discrimination: this includes direct and indirect discrimination, any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability, and failure to make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantages caused by a disability.
4.3 All members have a responsibility to:
Treat others with dignity and respect.
Report discrimination, bullying, unfair treatment or harassment which they experience or witness
Help identify discriminatory practices or procedures and bring these to the attention of a branch official or a member of the NEC.
Attend mandatory staff training and development events.
Express opinions constructively with sensitivity and respect.
Play an active part in delivering the Equal Opportunities Policy.
The NEC, Branch Officials and staff must attend or undertake any mandatory Equal Opportunity training and development events.
5. MEMBERSHIP APPLICATIONS
5.1 Applications for membership will be conducted against objective criteria and in such a way that avoids discrimination. The provisions, criteria and practices we use will be reviewed regularly to ensure that individuals applying for membership are treated on the basis of the objective criteria for membership.
5.2 Membership applicants should not be asked questions which might suggest an intention to discriminate on grounds of a Protected Characteristic.
6. TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
6.1 We will ensure that termination criteria and procedures are fair and objective and are not directly or indirectly discriminatory.
6.2 We will also ensure that any termination of membership is undertaken without discrimination.
7. TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT
7.1 We will ensure that termination of employment criteria and procedures are fair and objective and are not directly or indirectly discriminatory.
7.2 We will also ensure that disciplinary procedures and penalties are applied without discrimination, whether they result in disciplinary warnings, dismissal or other disciplinary action.
8.1 If you are disabled or become disabled, we encourage you to tell us about your condition so that we can support you as appropriate.
8.2 If you experience difficulties in respect of your membership because of your disability, you may wish to contact the Branch Secretary (or of you are an employee the CEO) to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty. We may wish to consult with you and your medical adviser about possible adjustments. We will consider the matter carefully and try to accommodate your needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable, we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible.
8.3 We will monitor the physical features of any premises we use to consider whether they might place anyone with a disability at a substantial disadvantage. Where necessary, we will take reasonable steps to improve access and review other facilities.
9. BREACHES OF THIS POLICY BY MEMBERS
9.1 We take a strict approach to breaches of this policy, which will be dealt with by the Branch of which the individual or individuals are members. Serious cases of deliberate discrimination may result in loss of membership.
9.2 If you believe that you have suffered discrimination you can raise the matter with a Branch Official in the first instance or if this is not appropriate with a member of the NEC. Complaints will be treated in confidence and investigated as appropriate.
9.3 There must be no victimisation or retaliation against individuals who complain about discrimination. However, making a false allegation deliberately and in bad faith will be treated as misconduct and dealt with by the relevant Branch.
10. BREACHES OF THIS POLICY BY EMPLOYEES
10.1 We take a strict approach to breaches of this policy, which will be dealt with in accordance with our Disciplinary Procedure, as contained in the NARPO Employee Handbook. Serious cases of deliberate discrimination may result in termination of employment.
10.2 If you believe that you have suffered discrimination you can raise the matter through our Grievance Procedure. Complaints will be treated in confidence and investigated as appropriate.
10.3 There must be no victimisation or retaliation against individuals who complain about discrimination. However, making a false allegation deliberately and in bad faith will be treated as misconduct and dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.
11. RELATED POLICIES
The application of this policy to employees is supported by the following other policies and procedures which are in the NARPO Employee Handbook:
(a) Grievance Procedure.
(b) Disciplinary Procedure.
This policy will be reviewed every three years or more regularly if we identify any non-compliance or problem or in the light of new legislation or best practice which could impact on this policy.
ADVICE FOR NARPO ON THE EQUALIY ACT 2010
We have been asked to advise and assist the NEC in respect of:
Whether the Equality Act 2010 applies to NARPO when interacting with members.
If the Equality Act does apply what steps NARPO needs to take to ensure compliance.
The consequences for NARPO, the NEC or any NARPO branch of a failure to comply.
The drafting of an appropriate Equality Policy.
NARPO is an unincorporated association made up of 107 branches in England and Wales and a national headquarters representing and assisting the branches. In brief:
Each branch is an independent unincorporated association having individual members. These members elect branch officials usually at least a secretary and chair.
The national geographic footprint of branches is divided into 8 regions with the branches electing 2 representatives to their respective region.
The NEC is made up of 16 elected representatives; two from each region.
The NEC manage the national NARPO and follow the Rules of the organisation. These Rules are approved by and can only be amended by the members attending at the organisations national conference or by administrative change as detailed in Rule 86 (4). The current Rules are dated November 2019.
NARPO is an organisation representing retired police officers. It has over 92,000 members who can be divided into two categories:
Full members are those who are retired police officers and who have an entitlement to a police pension
Members are any person who is not entitled to join the Branch as a Full Member.
The current Rules are approved by the national conference. They are dated November 2019. The clauses of these rules which are relevant to this advice are:
Clause 3.1 Objectives
The Association exists to safeguard the rights of members and promote measures for their welfare with particular regard to police pensions.
Clause 5 No discrimination
There shall be no discrimination against any member or person wishing to become a Member of the Association (Member of the Association) on grounds of age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage or civil partnership, political affiliation, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Clause 6 Categories of membership
6.1 Membership of the Association is at the discretion of the Branch. Applicants for membership are required to disclose any antecedent matter, which could bring discredit on the Association; the onus to disclose such matters rests with the applicant.
6.1.1 All Members are expected to maintain a high standard of conduct and to comply with the Rules of the Association. Members are also expected to treat other members, guests, officers and employees of the Association with respect.
6.1.2 A Branch has the right to terminate the membership of any member who does not meet the standards set in 6.1.1
6.2 Subject to Rule 6.1. Full Membership of the Association shall be open to former Police officers who have served in a Police Force (Police Force) and who have met the minimum service, age or ill health requirements that would entitle them to a police pension (Police Pension); and who have not been dismissed or required to resign from a police force by reason of misconduct.
6.2.1 A Branch may confer Life membership on any Full Member who, in the opinion of that Branch, has given outstanding service to the Association either at branch or at national level. A Full Member on whom Life membership has been conferred shall continue to be a Full Member of that Branch and shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of Full Membership for life unless he/she ceases to be a member under the provisions of Rule 6.1.2 or Rule 9.
6.3 Subject to rule 6.1, Membership may be granted by a Branch Committee to any person who is not eligible to join the Branch as a Full Member.
6.3.1 the spouse (Spouse) of a Full Member shall be deemed to be a Member of the Association.
6.3.2 Only a Full Member may;
22.214.171.124 be an Officer of a Branch (Officers of a Branch) Note: this Rule shall not apply to any Member who was already in post prior to Conference 2016
126.96.36.199 be eligible to attend Conference (Conference) as a Delegate; or
188.8.131.52 be entitled or eligible for election to the NEC.
6.3.3 Any Full Member may apply to join another branch as a Member but may not be a Full Member of more than one branch.
Clause 7 Admission of members
7.1 All applications for membership shall be made to the relevant Branch Secretary (Branch Secretary) who shall decide whether to accept or refuse the application.
7.2 Any person whose application for membership is refused shall be notified of that refusal and the reason for it and may, within 14 clear days (Clear Days) of such notification, appeal to the Branch Committee whose decision shall be final and binding.
Clause 8 Membership obligations
8.1 Application for membership of the Association shall constitute acceptance by the applicant that the rules of the Association are binding on him/her with effect from acceptance into membership
Clause 15 Constitution
A Branch shall comprise of members who join together to foster the objectives of the Association and for no other reason. All Branches shall enjoy autonomy and equal rights within the rules of the Association.
Branches may make their own rules and arrangements provided they are not inconsistent with these Rules.
APPLICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP
Applications for membership are usually made by a prospective member to a branch and a branch officer makes the decision and will then notify the applicant of their decision.
We are advised there is a preference by some branches for a prospective member to already be in receipt of a police pension as this enables the pension administrator to deduct the membership subscription from the individual’s pension and make payment to the branch. This reduces the work of the branch. Some branches therefore refuse membership to a retired police officer who is not, at the time of the application, in receipt of their police pension.
EQUALITY ACT 2010
The Equality Act applies to any association which has 25 or more members and has rules governing membership.
The Act sets out 9 protected characteristics which are:
Marriage and civil partnership
Pregnancy and maternity
Religion or belief
It is unlawful to directly or indirectly discriminate against an individual because of a protected characteristic. Direct discrimination occurs if an individual is treated less favourably than another because of a protected characteristic.
Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice is applied which puts people with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage compared with others who do not share that characteristic, and applying the provision, criterion or practice cannot be objectively justified.
There are also provisions for harassment and victimisation.
If an association uses provisions, criteria or practices they must be able to objectively justify the use in respect of any indirect discrimination. Breaking down the last sentence may assist:
A provision, criterion or practice can include any formal or informal policies, rules, practices, arrangements, criteria, conditions, prerequisites or qualifications.
Objectively justified is something which can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The way of achieving the aim must be appropriate and necessary.
Proportionate is determined by weighing up the discriminatory impact of the action against the reasons for it and asking if there is any other way of achieving the aim of the action.
Indirect discrimination is where a service provider applies an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice which puts people with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage compared with others who do not share that characteristic, and applying the provision, criterion or practice cannot be objectively justified by the service provider.
An association will wish to ensure they do not discriminate because:
Adverse publicity will affect the association.
In the event of a claim the damages for discrimination are unlimited.
To ensure compliance an association will usually consider:
Making sure they and all members of the association are aware of the requirements of the Equality Act and that their rules and practices do not directly or indirectly discriminate against an individual with a protected characteristic.
Publishing an Equality and Diversity Policy (also called an Equal Opportunities Policy) setting out that they will comply with the Equality Act, how this will be achieved and telling all members how to avoid unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation.
Ensuring they can objectively justify indirect discrimination.
If an association undertakes the above, they are more likely to have a defence to a claim of discrimination, harassment or victimisation. It is important to be aware that where an association has taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination an individual member can still be personally responsible if they are found to have discriminated.
THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 AND NARPO
NARPO has more than 25 members and applies rules to determine membership. Approval is needed to become a member and can be refused for reasons which are then given to the prospective member. It follows that NARPO is subject to and must comply with the Equality Act.
To ensure compliance NARPO should;
Only have rules, provisions, criteria and practices whether written, formal or informal which are a proportionate means of achieving an aim and can be objectively justified. This means reviewing rules and practices to consider whether they would directly or indirectly discriminate against an individual with one of the protected characteristics. If they do discriminate then to determine whether these rules and practices, are capable of being objectively justified.
Adopt and publish an Equality and Diversity Policy or Equal Opportunities Policy setting out that the Association will comply with the Act and how it will achieve this.
Regularly review compliance and ensure that all branches and members comply with the Policy and the Act.
THE CONSEQUENCES FOR NARPO OF FAILING TO COMPLY
If an individual or group of individuals take action against NARPO claiming discrimination, harassment or victimisation then whether or not the action is successful NARPO will be subject to:
Potential adverse publicity which may affect individuals in making their decision to apply for membership.
The time, effort and cost needed to deal with the claim.
The risk that third-party providers may draw adverse conclusions or withdraw their support.
If the action was successful:
An order from the court to allow membership or enforce a change to a rule or practice.
An order to pay damages which are unlimited.
Payment of legal costs.
Further adverse publicity.
Whilst a member belongs to or applies to join a branch, they will probably argue that membership is with the Association:
Clause 6.1 Membership of the Association is at the discretion of the Branch.
Clause 6.2 Subject to Rule 6.1. Full Membership of the Association shall be open to former Police officers who have served in a Police Force. There will therefore be a risk that if it is a branch that is discriminatory the Association will also be a defendant to any action. This means that an Equality and Diversity Policy or Equal Opportunities Policy setting out compliance and providing a defence for the Association is all the more important.
CURRENT COMPLIANCE BY NARPO
A review of the current formal rules provides confidence that NARPO have considered and wish to comply with the Equality Act:
Clause 5 No discrimination. There shall be no discrimination against any member or person wishing to become a Member of the Association (Member of the Association) on grounds of age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage or civil partnership, political affiliation, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Clause 6.3 Subject to rule 6.1, Membership may be granted by a Branch Committee to any person who is not eligible to join the Branch as a Full Member.
Clause 7.2. Any person whose application for membership is refused shall be notified of that refusal and the reason for it and may, within 14 clear days (Clear Days) of such notification, appeal to the Branch Committee whose decision shall be final and binding.
These rules show that not only is NARPO stating that there shall be no discrimination in respect of the protected characteristics but an individual who cannot join as a full member can still join the Association. In addition, clause 7.2 creates transparency and enables a review.
It is the informal practices which are likely to lead to a claim of discrimination. The preference by some branches for a prospective member to already be in receipt of a police pension as this enables the pension administrator to deduct the membership subscription from an individual’s pension and make payment to the branch, may not be objectively justifiable.
This informal practice will for example put women who have retired to have a family at a disadvantage as they will not be in receipt of a pension. There is likely to be a larger percentage of women who have retired and are yet to receive their pension. Women will have one or more of the protected characteristics and it will be very difficult to establish that this practice is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim namely reducing the work of the branch. It is doubtful that this aim is in any case appropriate and necessary or that there are no other ways of achieving the aim.
As the rules of NARPO state that there shall be no discrimination and that a prospective member shall be notified of the reason for membership refusal there is a very high risk that this informal practice is indirect discrimination and a breach of the Equality Act.
The Equality Act applies to NARPO and its interaction with members and prospective members. NARPO should consider:
Undertaking a review of its provisions, criteria and practices to check whether they could directly or indirectly discriminate against any individual with a protected characteristic.
If there are any provisions, criteria or practices which could discriminate to review whether these can be objectively justified. If they cannot be objectively justified to change to ones which can be.
Ensure that any review of provisions, criteria and practices includes the provision of services or third-party benefits to members.
To agree and publish an Equal Opportunities Policy and ensure all members, branches and branch officials are aware of this policy.
NARPO Equal Opportunities Policy