Aberdeenshire UNISON

New Gender Equality Duty

Promoting Equality: Aberdeenshire Council develop scheme

UNISON has taken part in Aberdeenshire Council's Gender Equality Scheme Development Group which was charged with developing a Gender Equality Scheme that meets the requirements of the new Gender Equality Duty. This came into force on 29th June 2007, put back from the original date of 7th April.

The council's scheme was put out for consultation on Arcadia and lotus notes and members had until 15th June to make comment.

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair was the UNISON representative on the group. "The Duty puts a big responsibility on the council to make sure that its working practices and the services it provides are free from discrimination and gender bias and ensure equal opportunity for men and women. The council must publish an action plan which should be reviewed every 3 years, setting out how they will do this," she said.
"UNISON is committed to equal opportunities and is pleased to take part in the development group. It is important that the scheme delivers genuine improvements in gender equality within the council and in the services it provides."

The group consulted with staff and service users on what the council can do to get rid of harrassment and discrimination on the grounds of gender and how it can promote genuine equality. A questionnaire was sent out through lotus notes to employees to get their views, and these now form a basis of the new scheme.

"This was UNISON members opportunity to tell the council of your experiences as an employee and a service user of Aberdeenshire Council, and to identify what they can do better to promote gender equality and to get rid of harrassment and discrimination," said Kate.

"It is important to remember that discrimination can be direct ie when men and women are treated differently, but it can also be indirect, where men and women are treated the same but this disadvantages one gender. An example of this could be when all employees are expected to start work at 5am. This will be more difficult for women with child care responsibilities. If there is no good reason for such an early start and flexibility is refused, this is indirect discrimination."

For further information on the Gender Equality Duty go to: