Equalities Reps enhance skills at seminar

21 March 2018

PFEW Equalities Chair, Ian Saunders, with researchers Karen Pinfold and Elaine Parker

PFEW Equalities Chair, Ian Saunders, with Karen Pinfold and Elaine Parker from Research

Federation reps who specialise in equality have been expanding their learning at a three day seminar in Leatherhead.

Equality Liaison Officers (ELOs) from across England and Wales, who attended the event at Federation House, were given presentations on topics ranging from capability dismissal, limited duties and personal injury claims.

Ian Rennie, PFEW’s General Secretary for six years until 2014, and Jayne Monkhouse OBE, gave delegates a comprehensive understanding of the medical retirement process and disability discrimination.

Jayne Willetts, Secretary of PFEW’s Equalities Sub Committee, said: “The great thing about holding a seminar for ELOs is that we’re able to share learning and experiences as well as good and best practice. For the first time we’ve been able to hear from experts – in Ian and Jayne – around the medical retirement process, sick pay and entitlements. We’ve heard from practitioners and researchers. It means ELOs will leave here with enhanced knowledge to better serve our members.”

A talk on limited duties was delivered by PFEW’s Research team, who discussed the ‘journey’ from Tom Winsor’s review into police pay and conditions, published in 2012, which included measures for forces to remove X factor payments from officers on Restricted Duties and ease them out altogether. However, PFEW was able to successfully argue at the implementation stage for a more positive approach aimed at retaining officers and focusing on what they can do rather than what they can’t. In some cases making reasonable adjustments or finding alternative roles.

Ian Saunders, who chairs PFEW’s Equalities Sub Committee, said: “Forces always want officers who can do everything, but the reality is that 5% have got a disability of some kind that will impact on their duties. Forces have a duty to those officers and the Federation will support our members into alternative roles with longevity and where they are still using their skills and experience.”

PFEW in-house lawyers discussed legal case studies with a relevance to the Federation Rep role. One, from 2012, involved a dog handler who informed her force she was pregnant for a second time in 17 months and had one of her two police dogs taken from her. She brought a successful case that this amounted to pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

In another canine related case, the Tri-Force of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Avon & Somerset, was ordered to pay nearly £15,000 compensation to a female dog handler for indirect sex discrimination over the fitness aspect of its assessment process, which included requiring officers to carry a dog uphill, and was found to unfairly disadvantage women.

Later, David Miers from lawyers Slater & Gordon presented on work related stress.