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MAKE YOUR FREE Equal opportunities policy

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How to make an Equal opportunities policy

An equal opportunity policy is a document that states what measures a business takes to eliminate and prevent discrimination and its duty to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Show a commitment to equal opportunity and diversity within the workplace with a clear and fair equal opportunities policy. A responsible employer wants employees to know that its decisions within employment, recruitment, progression and dismissal are based solely on employee merit and employer need. This equality and diversity policy covers all forms of unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work. It also contains sections on training, adjustments for disability, monitoring, grievances and sanctions.

Use this equal opportunities policy: 

  • to help you fulfil your legal duty not to discriminate, harass or victimise as an employer
  • to inform employees and managers about equal opportunities
  • to explain what will happen if employees don't comply with rules about equal opportunities
  • only for employees based in England, Wales or Scotland

This equality and diversity policy covers:

  • aims of the policy
  • who is responsible for equal opportunities and the special role of managers
  • different types of discrimination and examples of prohibited behaviours
  • arrangements for disabled workers
  • avoiding discrimination during recruitment and throughout the employment relationship
  • what to do if discrimination is discovered
  • possible sanctions for breach of this policy

Displaying an equal opportunities policy shows commitment to equal opportunities and tackling discrimination within a workplace. It ensures that employees and managers are informed about equal opportunities and explains the consequences of non-compliance to the policy.

Those in senior positions such as business owners, chief executives and directors are responsible for the implementation, review and monitoring of the policy.  Employers should also appoint a manager responsible for monitoring and implementing the policy on an everyday basis.

Rocket Lawyer's template allows you to assign a person responsible for daily, as well as overall responsibility for the policy.

Everyone in the UK is protected by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 specifies 9 protected characteristics. These are:

  • age
  • sex
  • race
  • disability
  • pregnancy
  • marital status
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment
  • religious background

Discriminating against workers and employees because of any of the nine characteristics is against the law.

This document allows you to choose the protected characteristics that apply to your organisation.

Discrimination can come in one of the following forms:

  • direct discrimination occurs when a worker or employee is being treated less favourably than others because of association with one or more protected characteristic
  • indirect discrimination occurs when someone with a protected characteristic is put at an unfair disadvantage, despite an employer putting rules and equality arrangements in place
  • harassment occurs when someone's dignity is being violated through unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic creating an offensive environment for them
  • victimisation occurs when someone is being treated unfairly because they have complained about discrimination or harassment
  • disability discrimination occurs when someone with a disability is directly or indirectly discriminated against and when an employer fails to make reasonable adjustments to reduce disadvantages caused by disability

This document protects against all forms of discrimination mentioned above and explains the scope of each one.

The law protects you against discrimination at work, including avoiding unlawful discrimination in the process of:

  • dismissal
  • employment terms and conditions
  • pay and benefits
  • promotion and transfer opportunities
  • training
  • recruitment
  • redundancy

However, you may choose to opt-out from monitoring equal opportunities as part of the recruitment process.

This document allows you to choose whether you will actively monitor equality during recruitment.

The Rocket Lawyer employer's Grievance procedure sets out how to report discrimination. Any employee who observes or is aware of acts that they believe may amount to discrimination should report it to the appropriate person or department.

This document allows you to appoint a person to whom a worker or employee should report the discrimination to.

If an employee doesn't comply with the equality opportunities policy, they may be subject to disciplinary action. Noncompliance with the policy may lead to the dismissal of that person with immediate effect. This applies to every single employee including those who hold senior positions.

In some circumstances, employees may be personally liable for discrimination. Some acts of discrimination may result in legal action and criminal offence where the harassment was intentional.

An employer will be jointly responsible for any acts of discrimination carried out by an employee unless they can show that they have done everything they could to prevent it.

It is highly recommended to train staff on equal opportunities, however, it is not a legal requirement. Managers responsible for recruitment or handling grievance and disciplinary matters are the most likely to be the subject of discrimination allegations, and therefore should be trained on equal opportunities.

This document allows you to choose whether equal opportunities extends to training as well as recruitment, selection procedures, work practices, promotion etc.

Ask a lawyer for:

  • employees based outside England, Wales or Scotland

This equal opportunities policy complies with the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Employment Statutory Code of Practice.

Other names for Equal opportunities policy

Equal opportunities and diversity policy.

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