How does the University ensure equality for me?
Information for staff
The University’s Equality and Diversity Policy Statement makes it clear that the University:
“aims to ensure through its admissions policies for students and its recruitment and selection processes for staff that it encourages applications from all groups represented in the wider community at a local, national and international level. The University will endeavour not to discriminate unfairly or illegally, directly or indirectly, against students or potential students, staff or potential staff. This commitment applies to all functions of the University and to any stage of an individual’s career at Aston.”
The University also has particular responsibilities for good equal opportunities practice that go further than non-discrimination. It has a positive duty to promote race, disability and gender equality. It also has a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for staff and students with disabilities to ensure that they are not at a substantial disadvantage to those who are not disabled.
Here you will find further information and guidance on the 9 protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010:
Everyone at Aston can expect respect and equality whatever their age. We are proud that our university community includes people of all ages, from the youngest children at our excellent nursery to people past normal retirement age who are still studying or working at Aston.
October 2011 saw the abolition of the default retirement age - so employees are now no longer expected to retire at age 65 and can voluntarily retire at a time of their choosing. The main pension schemes now offer opportunities for flexible retirement, under which staff can reduce their working hours and/or grade and draw part of their pension benefits.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have more information on the regulations.
The Equality Act 2010, which replaced earlier legislation including the Disability Discrimination Act, gave disabled people increased protection against discrimination. The law uses a very broad definition of a disability which moves away from the idea of a standard list of fixed impairments to a more social model. The social model says that people are disabled by their environment and if we can make the environment genuinely accessible, they will no longer experience any disabling barriers. A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. (Substantial long-term means lasting at least 12 months or expected to last at least 12 months).
Aston is committed to providing a supportive working and learning environment for all individuals, regardless of any disability, to allow all our staff and students to achieve their full potential.
Aston University is committed to advancing equality and promoting fair and inclusive practice for our trans staff and students; and to create a safe and positive environment for all forms of gender identity and expression. We aim to anticipate and assist positively in meeting the needs of trans and gender variant staff and students, allowing everyone to achieve to their full potential.
The University recognises gender identity transition and affirmation as a unique personal process, which may or may not involve medical intervention.
Our approach to gender identity and provision of support for trans staff and students ensures the University meets the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment” and the obligations under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
However, the University seeks to go beyond legal compliance in recognising that the current legislation does not cover a fully inclusive definition of trans identities. We have adopted a Trans Equality Policy and Procedures which is inclusive of non-binary identities also. The University will continue to work closely with LGBT+ Staff Network and Students’ Union to ensure support for trans staff and students, line managers, colleagues and fellow students.
We also seek to learn from emerging good practice and thought leadership in the higher education sector and wider policy developments and social movements for equality and human rights.
Further Information and Useful Links
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection for people who propose to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) of gender reassignment. A person does not have to be under medical supervision to have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows people to apply to the Gender Recognition Panel for full legal recognition of their affirmed gender. Applicants who meet the requirements of the Act will be issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate.
In England and Wales marriage is no longer restricted to a union between a man and a woman but now includes marriage between a same-sex couple. Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as civil partnerships.
The Equality Act 2010 outlaws discrimination on the basis of marriage and civil partnership. The law in this instance only covers employment and does not cover the provision of goods and services, so in relation to the University, only staff and not students are covered by the legislation. The legislation does not cover single people, those who are divorced or widowed or those that have dissolved a civil partnership.
All forms of prohibited conducted are unlawful in relation to marriage and civil partnership, including discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The other aspects of the public sector equality duty (advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations) do not apply in this instance.
Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is when you are treated unfairly because you are pregnant, breastfeeding or because you have recently given birth (in the last 26 weeks). You must suffer a disadvantage as a result of the unfair treatment.
At Aston, we are proud of our comprehensive family leave policies (including maternity, paternity, adoption and shared leave) and practices to support staff and their partners in pregnancy and beyond.
The University has its own Nursery on campus for the children of university students and staff, which caters for children aged between 3 months and 5 years.
At Aston we value the diversity of our community which is enriched by the contributions of every individual. Our aim is to create a community where people from all ethnic backgrounds can learn and work together.
The legislation is broad covering race, ethnicity and nationality and prohibiting discrimination, harassment and victimisation. As a public body the University is required to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people of different groups.
We seek to go beyond compliance and are committed to the active promotion of race equality as part of our equality, diversity and inclusion agenda, and our ambitions for the quality of the student and staff experience.
The Equality Act 2010 outlaws discrimination on the basis of religion and belief. The legislation is broad in that it includes those who do not have a religion/belief. The term religion/belief covers mainstream religions and beliefs as well as those that are currently less well recognised, including philosophical beliefs such as vivisection. Political beliefs however are not covered. The law makes illegal any form of prohibited conduct in relation to religion and belief (including discrimination, harassment and victimisation) and requires the University as a public body to advance equality of opportunity between people of different religions and beliefs.
Aston celebrates and values the diversity provided by individual members of the University community and aims to create an environment where the cultural, religious and non-religious beliefs of all are respected. Further guidance is contained in the University’s Religion and Belief Guidelines.
The University has a Multi-faith Chaplaincy which offers friendship and spiritual care to members of the Aston University community from any faith tradition or none. Further information is available on the Multi-faith Chaplaincy web pages.
The Chaplaincy has strong links with faith and community groups within the Birmingham area. The Chaplaincy also offers quiet space and prayer facilities on campus.
At Aston, we are very proud of our track record with gender equality. The Athena SWAN Charter recognises advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all.
In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
You can visit our Athena Swan page to find out more about our awards, work, and action plans.
We have developed policies to support all staff in achieving a good work-life balance. We support staff in their family life through our family leave policies covering maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave and adoption support leave policies.
Aston University is committed to cultivating a supportive environment for all members of its community ensuring that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or other sexuality or gender identity (LGBT+), feel welcomed, accepted and valued; and where homophobic behaviour is never tolerated. However, it is the right of the individual to choose whether they wish to be open about their sexuality at the University. To “out” someone without their permission is a form of harassment and will be treated as such.
We live in a society which generally assumes that everyone is “straight”, which can lead to LGBT+ people feeling excluded. It is important to listen to how people describe their own identity, gender, partners and relationships and reflect their choice of language. We should avoid making assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation and whether a partner is a man or a woman, and instead use gender-neutral terms and the plural pronoun “they”. Even where some LGBT people have reclaimed derogatory words such as “queer” to describe themselves, it isn’t appropriate at Aston to use these words to describe people.
At Aston, we are committed to the positive development of LGBT+ equality and diversity through effective representation, support and leadership. We are working collectively with our networks to ensure a positive experience for all of our staff and students. Our LGBT Charter outlines our commitment to, and progress towards, LGBT inclusion. Aston has networks to support LGBT staff and students. If you wish to get involved, seek support and guidance, or speak to others, please click on the following links for more information:
Homophobic abuse, harassment or bullying (such as name-calling, derogatory jokes, intrusive questions, etc.) are serious disciplinary offences and will be dealt with under the policy on harassment and bullying.