Race Act forces employers to do staff ethnicity checks

Public sector employers will have to monitor the ethnicity of their staff
from next month in order to stamp out race discrimination.

Public bodies with more than 150 staff will be required to keep checks on
the racial composition of applicants, staff and those being promoted following
the implementation of the next stage of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act on 3
December.

Employers will also have to monitor and analyse performance appraisals,
disciplinary actions, dismissals and resignations.

Francesca Okosi, vice-president of Socpo and HR director at Brent Council,
said, "Communication to staff is critical to the success of the RRAA. In
January all our managers will go on a seminar outlining the Act and its implications."

She also urged organisations to make sure their monitoring policies also
cover sexual orientation, gender and age. "Local authorities have a duty
to engage the community they serve, and they want to attract the best staff.
Without checking procedures, we are unaware if we are creating problems for
ourselves," she said.

Employers will have until 31 May to complete a race equality scheme
detailing how they will monitor race issues within their organisations.

The move follows the first phase of implementation of the RRAA in April this
year, which placed a duty on public bodies to merely promote race equality.

Seamus Taylor, head of public sector policy at the Commission for Racial
Equality, explained that HR has to sell the business case to the rest of the
organisation. "Communication is absolutely vital and HR must explain to
staff the seriousness of the monitoring.

"Much of the new legislation is good HR practice, so for most employers
it should just be a matter of tweaking and refining existing policies and
practices. We shall be issuing guidelines next month to assist them."

www.cre.gov.uk

By Paul Nelson

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