June 2019 Equalities Issues
Equality at the University of Brighton
Brighton UCU are working in the following areas to help support equalities issues at the University of Brighton. If members have any feedback related to the areas outlined below, please get in touch with a branch equalities officer. Contact information can be found on the Contact us page.
Your feedback and continuing dialogue will help us to identify, pursue and prioritise equalities issues in the workplace.
University Carer’s Policy
The current carer’s policy, ‘Supporting Staff who have caring responsibilities‘ is due to be reviewed on 1 October 2019 and there are key points which may be of interest to members.
- Currently the leave offered to carer’s is the mandatory minimum of 5 days and this could be revised upwards to support keeping carers in work. The current leave arrangements are also unpaid. Carers UK released a recent report recommending 5-10 days of paid leave in order to support carers and offset the longterm financial impact of being a carer: ‘Caring for your future…‘ (p.13).
- A provision could be put in place to formally recognise the need for carers to be able to take time off to attend medical appointments with a dependant.
- The current policy was ratified in 2018 and it is unclear how aware line managers are of the policy and the need to put in place a Carers Support Plan if a caring responsibility is disclosed. Some reporting on the implementation of the existing policy would seem pertinent at this time.
UCU’s No sexual harassment week took place between 10-15 June. Brighton UCU branch notes that the current Harassment and Bullying Policy, includes sexual harassment but does not provide clear information about how complaints of sexual harassment will be handled as distinct for other types of harassment and bullying. This is important due to the potential impact of sexual harassment on an individual’s career, the likelihood of under-reporting and the balance of power in the workplace. In this era of non-disclosure agreements at other institutions, the university could take a clear stand against these issues by having a separate sexual harassment policy and enhanced reporting procedures for individuals who have encountered harassment.
UCU Brighton branch are currently looking into the university’s maternity leave arrangements and how they compare to similar institutions. We seek feedback and support from any members who have recently taken this type of leave. We would also be grateful if any members who have recently taken maternity leave can come forward to help lead on this issue.
Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse
Another, area where the university could make a clear step forward is in supporting staff and students who are experiencing domestic violence. In times of economic strife and uncertainty, such is the situation surrounding Brexit, staff and students may feel trapped in unsafe living conditions. By having a robust policy on this issue the university would be recognising the huge impact that domestic violence and emotional abuse can have on physical and mental health and also as a by-product on workplace performance. This would include providing clear disclosure procedures for those experiencing domestic violence and in the case where an employee is found to be a perpetrator of abuse, that disciplinary action may be taken. For further reference, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guidance.