Equality and Diversity Policy

We are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. This applies to our professional dealings with clients and others.

Neil Lewin is responsible for implementing and monitoring our Equality & Diversity policy. He undertakes a review of this policy annually to verify it is in effective operation and ensures that appropriate action is taken in relation to any non-compliance identified under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities.

We treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:

  • sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
  • sexual orientation (including civil partnership status);
  • race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
  • religion or belief;
  • age;
  • caring responsibility; or Disability

We take all reasonable steps to ensure that the firm and its staff do not unlawfully discriminate under:

  • the Equality Act 2010;
  • the Employment Rights Act 1996;
  • the Human Rights Act 1998;
  • the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
  • the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
  • the Work and Families Act 2006;
  • the Civil Partnership Act 2004; and any other relevant legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services.

Wherever possible, we take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that we serve, in order to ensure that, subject to funding constraints, our services are accessible to all clients.

We are committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. We will take steps to identify the needs of clients in the community and develop plans and procedures setting out how we will meet clients’ needs and for ensuring the services which we provide are accessible to all.  We will take account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English.  We will consider whether particular groups are predominant within our client base and, where possible, will ensure that their needs are met.

We do not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with experts and third parties. All experts and third parties are instructed from a register of experts and have been assessed by the firm as being capable of meeting both our and our clients’ requirements.  Experts and third parties are instructed because they satisfy our selection criteria.

We treat all job applicants equally and fairly and do not unlawfully discriminate against them. We do this by ensuring that we operate an open and fair recruitment process, using selection criteria which do not discriminate, and making decisions based on individual qualities and personal merit. Promotion within the firm is made solely on merit.

We consider all employees to be equal and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will, for example, include arrangements for employment, recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, conditions of service, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, dress code, work allocation and any other employment related activities.

All staff are informed of this policy as part of their induction and during annual equality & diversity update training.  All staff are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and the specific Outcomes within Chapter 2 of the SRA Code of Conduct and are responsible for ensuring compliance with them when undertaking their jobs or representing our firm.

We treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination made by any of our staff, clients, barristers, experts or other third parties and will take action where appropriate. All complaints are investigated in accordance with our grievance procedure or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome. We also monitor the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination.

Where acts of unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation and/or failure to comply with this policy by any member of staff are identified, we will ensure that our Disciplinary Procedure is followed and this may result in disciplinary proceedings being instigated.

We monitor and record, at least annually, equality & diversity information about job applicants and existing staff including directors on the basis of gender, age, disability and ethnic groups.

We provide equality & diversity information to the Legal Aid Agency as required in relation to staff and clients under the terms of the LAA Contracts.

Howell Hylton recognises that it must make reasonable adjustments in the way that we work with disabled people to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in comparison to people who are not disabled. A reasonable adjustment involves making a change to the way that we usually do things to ensure that we are fair to disabled people. We may depart from our usual practice if we find it places disabled people at a substantial disadvantage. We will not make assumptions about whether

a disabled person requires any adjustments or about what those adjustments should be. We will discuss the requirements with the person concerned and seek to reach agreement on what may be

reasonable in the circumstances.

Examples of reasonable adjustments we could make are installing a ramp for a wheelchair user, letting a disabled person work on the ground floor, changing employees equipment e.g using a special keyboard, or providing documents or correspondence in larger font size. In deciding what is “reasonable” in making the adjustment we will have regard to the effectiveness of the adjustment in preventing the disadvantage, the extent to which it is practical to make the adjustment, the cost and availability of resources and the extent to which making the adjustment may disrupt Howell Hylton’s activities.

We identify equality and diversity training needs as and when appropriate, and address them as part of our overall training plan.  This includes the provision of periodic equality & diversity training updates.   Our Equality & Diversity training and communication objectives are reviewed at least annually.