HR Policy
To Be Categorised
Head of HR
HR Policy Group, APF
Director of Workforce, Employee Director
01 April 2014
01 August 2016
01 August 2019

General Note

NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy/procedure statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.

New policies/procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.

Reviewed policies/procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.

If a policy/procedure is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy/procedure review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.


This policy sets out NHS Fife’s commitment to the principles, as defined below, of equality, diversity and human rights in employment and sets out the approach to be followed, in order to ensure that such principles are consistently met.

While successful implementation of this policy will ensure compliance with current legislation and national policy, NHS Fife also recognises both the moral and business case for maintaining good employment practice in relation to equality, diversity and human rights.

NHS Fife recognises that it also has a unique opportunity to influence the practice of those other organisations with which it engages and to champion equality, diversity and human rights within society more generally.

This policy has been developed in partnership with local trade union/professional organisation representatives. It reflects the best practice, and meets the minimum standards, set out within the Embracing Equality, Diversity and Human Rights in NHS Scotland Partnership Information Network (PIN) Policy.


This policy applies to all employees of NHS Fife.

This policy applies to all those who work within or apply to work within NHS Fife, regardless of employment status.


The responsibility for the application of the policy rests with Line Managers and HR staff within NHS Fife.


Equality is described by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as “ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents, and believing that no one should have poorer life choices because of where, what or whom they were born, or because of other characteristics.

Managing diversity is defined as “valuing everyone as an individual”, recognizing that a “one-size fits all” approach to managing people does not achieve fairness and equality of opportunity, given that people have different needs, values and beliefs.

Human rights are defined as “the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled”. They ensure that people are treated fairly and with dignity and respect.


This policy sets out the aims of NHS Fife to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010 and less favourable treatment (directly or indirectly) of other categories of worker as set out within other relevant legislation;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic (i.e. age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation) and those who do not;
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and
  • Ensure that the organisation has due regard for the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in the discharge of its function.


The following principles and values are key to the achievement of these aims:

  • Equality, diversity and human rights must be at the heart of NHS Fife and everything it does;
  • Disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics will be removed or minimized in order to create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all staff are recognised and valued;
  • Steps will be taken to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of those not in protected groups.
  • Steps will be taken to reduce underrepresentation of people with particular protected characteristics and increase the diversity of our workforce, both at an organisational level and within different job roles;
  • A zero tolerance approach will be taken to intimidation, bullying or harassment, recognising that all staff are entitled to a working environment that promotes dignity and respect for all;
  • NHS Fife will act as an agent for change within local communities by positioning equality, diversity and human rights at the heart of local delivery plans;
  • Whilst this will be achieved in part by being championed at a senior level, it can only be fully achieved through all those working within NHS Fife recognizing and adhering to their own personal responsibilities in this regard, and NHS Fife will therefore take steps to ensure that everyone in the organisation understands their rights and responsibilities under this policy;
  • NHS Fife will ensure that arrangements are in place to support staff who have equality, diversity and human rights issues;
  • Equality and diversity monitoring will be undertaken on a regular basis, with resulting improvement actions being identified and achieved; and
  • This policy will be subject to ongoing monitoring to ensure that it is being fairly and consistently applied and that the stated principles and values are being met. The policy will be subject to regular review, in partnership, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.


7.1 Recruitment and Selection

It is the policy of NHS Fife to ensure that:

  • All the provisions set out within the Safer Pre and Post Employment Checks PIN policy and NHS Fife’s Recruitment and Selection Standards are complied with;
  • All those involved at any stage in the recruitment and selection process have appropriate training in both recruitment and selection, and equality, diversity and human rights;
  • Where protected characteristics are indicated in the application form or subsequent selection process, this is not used to determine the success or otherwise of the applicant;
  • Job descriptions and person specifications are not discriminatory, accurately describing the job and containing only those necessary or desirable criteria which are objectively justifiable, and which are capable of being tested objectively;
  • Where appropriate, vacancies are advertised widely in order to select staff from as wide and diverse a pool of potential applicants as possible, with advertisements accessible to all those eligible to apply;
  • Advertisements are not discriminatory, confirming that all applications will be considered solely on merit and that reasonable adjustments will be made for disabled people. Where a genuine occupational requirement exists which restricts applications to those with a particular protected characteristic, a statement will be included to this effect. Where there is a lack of representation from those with particular protected characteristics within the job role or the wider organisation, a statement will be included encouraging applications from such individuals;
  • Any recruitment agencies operating on behalf of NHS Fife are expected to have due regard for the promotion of equal opportunities in the undertaking of their role and to demonstrate that they have equivalent policies in place and that they adhere to them;
  • Reasonable adjustments are made for applicants with a disability, during both the application and selection process stages. Applicants with a disability who meet the minimum criteria for the job and who indicate, on their application form, that they wish to participate in the guaranteed interview scheme, will in all cases be short listed for inclusion within the selection process;
  • Short listing of applicants is based only on information provided in the application form;
  • Selection methods are well designed, properly administered and recognised as a reliable method of predicting an applicant’s performance in a particular job;
  • Interviews are conducted strictly on the basis of the application form, the job description, the person specification, and the results of any selection tests, avoiding inappropriate or irrelevant questions;
  • Employment decisions are based solely on objective application of agreed scoring methods. Where there is more than one appointable candidate at this stage, and one candidate possesses a protected characteristic under-represented in the job role or wider workforce, recruiting managers are encouraged to use this as a tie-breaker, making a decision as a proportionate means of achieving the aim of addressing disadvantage or under-representation in the workforce;
  • Except in the case of individuals who are barred from undertaking regulated work, criminal convictions do not automatically prevent employment being offered. Any preferred candidates with convictions will be scored with NHS Fife policy on the use of disclosures, rehabilitation of offenders and protection from working with vulnerable groups and risk assessment process;
  • References are only obtained, and, with the individual’s prior consent, circulated to members of the selection panel, after a selection decision has been reached, and that where a reference is subjective and negative, the successful applicant is given an opportunity to comment on it;
  • The terms on which successful candidates are offered employment are free from taint of discrimination;
  • Having secured a preferred candidate, all unsuccessful short listed candidates will be offered feedback; and
  • Comprehensive records are kept, in line with the Data Protection Act 1998, which will allow NHS Fife to justify each decision and the process by which it was reached, to respond to any complaints of discrimination and to enable regular monitoring to identify any significant disparities between groups of people sharing different protected characteristics. If disparities are found, NHS Fife will investigate the possible causes in each case and take steps to remove any barriers.

7.2 During Employment

It is the policy of NHS Fife to ensure that:

  • For all staff, at all stages and in all aspects, their employment relationship with the organisation is free from discrimination, victimisation and harassment. This will be achieved through delivering the appropriate training for all staff in equality, diversity and human rights, both during induction and thereafter during the course of their employment;
  • The local policy, developed in line with the Preventing and Dealing with Bullying and Harassment in NHS Scotland PIN Policy is implemented consistently, with the commitment that inappropriate behaviour within or outwith the workplace (where still considered to be within the course of employment) the workplace, including that related to a protected characteristic, will not be tolerated;
  • Consideration is always given to making reasonable adjustments for members of staff with a disability so as to avoid their being placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to other staff. Such staff are assured that any information disclosed about a disability will be held confidentially, only disclosed to others with the individual’s consent;
  • Due regard is paid to the need to address pay inequality between women and men, making every effort to identify where equal pay is an issue and, where appropriate, taking steps to address such issues;
  • All staff will have the right to make a request for flexible working and that any refusal of such a request will be objectively justified (in compliance with the Supporting the Work-Life Balance PIN policy and relevant NHS Fife policies) and in accordance with the statutory provisions;
  • Local policies in relation to sickness and absence from work are non-discriminatory in design (and compliant with relevant NHS Fife policies), and applied fairly and consistently;
  • NHS Fife will consult with relevant staff to understand the requirements of their religion or belief, such as religious observances, and make appropriate provision to support them in doing so, where reasonably practicable;
  • If a member of staff is undergoing gender reassignment, NHS Fife will consult with them sensitively about their needs in the workplace and whether there are any reasonable and practical steps that can be taken to help them as they undergo their gender reassignment process;
  • NHS Fife will comply with NHS Fife’s local policies and the Supporting the Work-Life Balance PIN Policy in providing appropriate support to mothers who wish to breastfeed their children;
  • NHS Fife will comply with the National Uniform Policy and Dress Code (as contained within CEL 42 (2010)), particularly in relation to specialist items which may be required to meet religious or medical needs;
  • Training and development opportunities are made known to all relevant members of staff, with selection for training (including any criteria used for selection) being free from discrimination. Furthermore, NHS Fife will take positive action in the provision of such opportunities to remedy disadvantage, meet different needs or increase the participation of people who share a protected characteristic;
  • NHS Fife will ensure that personal development planning and review / appraisal processes are free from discrimination, by ensuring that such processes are in line with NHS Fife’s Personal Development Planning and Review Policy, with performance measured by transparent, objective and justifiable criteria using procedures that are consistently applied;
  • NHS Fife will ensure that work is assigned to staff by managers in a fair and consistent manner.
  • NHS Fife will ensure that decision making processes in relation to displacement on organisational change grounds, subsequent redeployment decisions, and, where applicable, voluntary severance, are non-discriminatory in design and application, and meet the requirements of NHS Fife’s Redeployment Policy.
  • NHS Fife will ensure that locally developed policies comply with the PIN Policies on Management of Employee Conduct, Management of Employee Capability, Promoting Attendance, Dealing with Employee Grievances and Preventing and Dealing with Bullying and Harassment, ensuring that they do not discriminate against members of staff either in the way they are designed or how they are implemented in practice. Where changes to policies and procedures are being considered, in addition to consulting with recognized trade unions / professional organisations, NHS Fife will also consult with trade union / professional organisation equality representatives as a first step towards understanding the diverse needs of members of staff;
  • Proper records are maintained, in line with the Data Protection Act 1998, of decisions taken in relation to individual members of staff, and the reasons for these decisions; and
  • Regular monitoring of overall workplace figures on matters such as requests for flexible working, promotion, training and disciplinary procedures is undertaken in order to identify any significant disparities between groups of people sharing different protected characteristics. If disparities are found, NHS Fife will investigate the possible causes in each case and take steps to remove any barriers.


NHS Fife will not tolerate behaviours that may constitute discrimination, harassment or victimisation of its staff in the course of their employment, nor will it tolerate such behaviour by its staff whether directed against colleagues or other people with whom they come into contact during the course of their employment.

All staff must adhere to this policy, and failure to do so may lead to disciplinary action.

8.1 Grievances

Any member of staff who believes that they have been treated less favourably because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, part-time status, fixed-term contract status or membership (or non-membership) of a trade union / professional organisation is encouraged to raise the matter through NHS Fife’s grievance policy developed in line with the Dealing with Employee Grievances in NHS Scotland PIN Policy.

8.2 Harassment

If the complaint is about harassment or victimisation, then the staff member should raise the matter using NHS Fife’s Dignity at Work policy developed in line with the Preventing and Dealing with Bullying and Harassment PIN Policy.

8.3 Dealing with Grievances / Harassment

It is the policy of NHS Fife to ensure that:

  • Where a complaint is received, staff are not discriminated against in the way that the organisation responds to it;
  • Such matters will be taken seriously and investigated promptly and not dismissed as “over-sensitivity” or “workplace culture” on the part of the member of staff;
  • The matter will be thoroughly investigated using NHS Fife’s Management of Employee Conduct policy, developed in line with the Management of Employee Conduct PIN Policy, and where an investigation recommends that a disciplinary process is appropriate, the individual against whom allegations have been made will be given a fair hearing; and
  • Members of staff who have raised allegations in good faith, regardless of whether or not they are upheld, and members of staff who have participated in the process, (eg as a witness), must not be subject to any detriment because of having done so.


  • NHS Fife will consider relevant evidence in order to understand the likely or actual effect of policies and practices on those with protected characteristics, or those protected from discrimination / less favourable treatment under other relevant legislation, recognising that such assessing of impact is not an end in itself, but rather an important part of policy and decision making, which will lead to enable us to take effective action on equality; develop better policies and practices, based on evidence; and be more transparent and accountable;
  • The extent to which policies should be subject to impact assessment will depend on questions of relevance and proportionality;
  • NHS Fife will ensure that our locally agreed process for undertaking impact assessment is consistently applied, by requiring that those participating in such a process are appropriately trained;
  • In undertaking such assessment of impact, NHS Fife will give due regard to the General Duty obligations to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations; and
  • In the interests of transparency and accountability, NHS Fife will make the results of such assessments publicly available.


To support the fair and consistent application of this policy, NHS Fife will ensure that all staff understand what this policy means for them, with regard to both rights and responsibilities. We will:

  • Ensure that this policy is published widely using appropriate communication channels;
  • Ensure that presentation on our commitment to equality, diversity and human rights is included within the corporate induction programme;
  • Require all staff to undertake mandatory training on equality, diversity and human rights, under this policy, alongside training on NHS Fife’s Dignity at Work policy, developed in line with the Preventing and Dealing with Bullying and Harassment PIN Policy;
  • Develop and deliver additional targeted training in response to any issues identified as part of the monitoring process; and
  • Ensure all those staff with a managerial responsibility participate in additional management training (as soon as possible on becoming a manager and from time to time thereafter), on their vital role and responsibilities under the policy, particularly in relation to how to prevent equality and diversity issues arising and on how to manage such situations where they do arise within the workplace.


  • NHS Fife recognises that monitoring and evaluation, and subsequent action, is essential to ensure that this policy is successfully applied, is known about and works;
  • NHS Fife will commit to monitoring the following information in relation to each of the protected characteristics listed under the Equality Act 2010, the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties Scotland) Regulations 2012 as well as in relation to other categories of worker protected under legislation from less favourable treatment:

Recruitment (including redeployment and successful and unsuccessful applicants)

Applicants for employment (internally and externally)

Those who are successful (or not) in the short-listing process

Those who are successful (or not) at each subsequent stage of the selection process

During Employment (including those on fixed-term contracts and promoted)

Members of staff in post by job, location and band / grade

Applicants for training

Members of staff who receive training

Time spent at a particular band / grade

Members of staff who benefit (or not) via PDPR / appraisal procedures (eg gateway progression with KSF or PRP with Executive & Senior Management Cohort)

Requests for flexible working

Allocation of discretionary points in the case of medical / dental staff


Occupational segregation

Member of staff involved in grievance / dignity at work procedures

Members of staff subject to formal procedures relating to conduct, capability or sickness absence

Members of staff displaced as a result of organisational change

Termination of employment



Resignation (including exit interview information)

Termination for other reasons

  • NHS Fife will only collect information which is required by law and can be used effectively;
  • NHS Fife will ensure that all those from whom we are seeking such information are made aware of how we will use this information, how they will benefit in the long term and that this data will be gathered, stored and used in line with the Data Protection Act 1998; and
  • Information collected will be regularly collated and analysed, according to the timescales locally agreed in partnership.


By undertaking equality, diversity and human rights monitoring, NHS Fife can:

  • Establish whether this policy is effective in practice;
  • Analyse the effect of other policies and practices on staff with particular characteristics;
  • Highlight possible inequalities and investigate their underlying causes;
  • Set targets and timetables for reducing disparities; and
  • Send a clear message to applicants and members of staff that equality, diversity and human rights issues are taken seriously within the organisation.

NHS Fife will agree, via the Area Partnership Forum, equality outcomes, which will be monitored and reviewed annually, with a plan detailing how these objectives will be met. Such action plans will detail initiatives / developments that will help the organisation address short term, as well as medium to long term goals, with the aim of improving equality, diversity and human rights within the organisation.

We will ensure that communication on progress against and achievement of such objectives is made to both managers, staff and trade union / professional organisation representatives, and are published in the annual report.