Equality & Diversity Policy

1 Our commitment to equality & diversity

(a) Commitment

Jason Nicholson Solicitors is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within out policies, practices and procedures.This applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and other solicitors, barristers and third parties. We shall treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • marriage or civil partnership status
  • pregnancy and maternity

(b) Legislation

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that we do not unlawfully discriminate under the terms of the Legal Aid contracts, and any legislation in force from time to time, that relates to discrimination in employment, as well as within the provision of goods, facilities or services.

2 Meeting Clients Needs

(a) General statement

As a provider of publicly funded legal services, Jason Nicholson Solicitors will treat all clients equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. Jason Nicholson Solicitors will also, wherever possible, 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.

(b) Identifying clients needs

Jason Nicholson Solicitors is committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. We will take steps to identify the needs of clients in our community and develop policies and procedures setting out how we will meet clients needs and for entering the services 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 devise appropriate policies to meet their needs; including men and women; carers; children; the elderly; members of religious groups; ethnic groups or nationalities; and lesbian, gay or transgender people.

(c) Communication Plan

Jason Nicholson Solicitors will devise policies and procedures to promote and raise awareness of policies and procedures for ensuring that our services are accessible for a diverse range of clients. Our Communications Plan sets out what steps we have taken and/or will take to put in place customer service policies and procedures to make our services accessible to clients. It contains a list of policies and procedures, information about what steps we will take to put them in place, who is responsible for them, and how we will make our policies and procedures openly available for the public.

Staff will be informed of the Communication Plan and training provided where appropriate to ensure that it is effectively implemented.

3 Dealings with third parties

(a) General statement

Jason Nicholson Solicitors will not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with third parties. This applies with other legal service providers and general procurement.

(b) Dealings with barristers

Jason Nicholson Solicitors will instruct barristers on the basis of their skill, experience and ability, and will not unlawfully discriminate, or encourage barristers clerks to unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of their age, gender, marital status, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity or disability.

4 Employment

(a) General statement

As an employer, Jason Nicholson Solicitors will treat all staff and job applicants equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will, for example, include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation and any other employment related activities.

(b) Recruitment and selection

Jason Nicholson Solicitors recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:

  1. we endeavour to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates practicable;
  2. employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities and personal merit;
  3. where appropriate, positive action measures are taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are underrepresented in the workforce;
  4. selection criteria and processes do not unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and pregnancy), sexual orientation (including civil partnership status), religion or belief, age or disability; other than in those instances where the firm is exercising permitted positive action or a permitted exemption.
  5. Wherever appropriate and necessary, lawful exemptions (genuine occupational requirements) will be used to recruit suitable staff to meet the special needs of particular groups;
  6. all recruitment agencies acting for Jason Nicholson Solicitors are aware of requirements not to discriminate and to act accordingly

(c) Conditions of service

Jason Nicholson Solicitors will treat all staff equally and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees. Terms and conditions of service for employees will comply with anti-discrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as flexible working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment will not unlawfully discriminate against any employee on the grounds of their age, gender, marital status, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, sex, maternity and pregnancy or disability.

Where appropriate and necessary, the firm will endeavour to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the specific needs of employees which arise from their ethnic or cultural background, gender and gender reassignment; responsibilities as carers, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation.

(d) Promotion and career development

Promotion within Jason Nicholson Solicitors will be made without reference to any of the forbidden grounds and will be based solely on merit. The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group.

While positive action measures may be taken in accordance with relevant anti-discrimination legislation to encourage applications from under-represented groups, appointments to all jobs will be based solely on merit. All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. However, the firm will take appropriate positive action measures (as permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation) to provide special training and support for groups which are underrepresented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.

(e) Training Plan

Jason Nicholson Solicitors will identify equality and diversity training needs and draw up a plan to address these as appropriate to their responsibilities. The plan will include details of the sort of training that will be provided, who will be trained, when training will be provided and who is responsible for ensuring that training is delivered. Staff will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and training plan.

(f) Working with other organisations

All those who act on Jason Nicholson Solicitors behalf will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on behalf of Jason Nicholson Solicitors. In all its dealings, including those with any consortium members, Jason Nicholson Solicitors will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.

5 Implementing the policy

(a) Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with Jason Nicholson. Jason Nicholson will be responsible for the operation of the policy. All staff of Jason Nicholson Solicitors are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing Jason Nicholson Solicitors.

Acts of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds by staff of Jason Nicholson Solicitors will result in disciplinary action. Failure to comply with this policy will be treated in a similar fashion. The policy applies to all who work for Jason Nicholson Solicitors.

Acts of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds by those acting on behalf of Jason Nicholson Solicitors will lead to appropriate action by the Legal Aid Agency.

(b) Complaints of discrimination

Jason Nicholson Solicitors will treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds made by staff, clients, barristers or other third parties and will take action where appropriate. All complaints will be investigated in accordance with Jason Nicholson grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.

We will also monitor the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by staff, clients, barristers and other third parties.

(c) Monitoring

  1. Jason Nicholson Solicitors will monitor and record equal opportunities information about staff on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity and disability.
  2. Where is is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, we will monitor the sexual orientation and religion or belief of staff so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them. We are aware that individuals may choose not to disclose their sexual orientation or religion or belief and that care will be taken to avoid inadvertent discrimination in such cases. We will store equal opportunities data as confidential personal data and restrict access to this information. Equal opportunities information will be used for exclusively for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring and have no bearing on opportunities or benefits.
Jason Nicholson Solicitors will monitor all elements of:

  • recruitment and selection process (applicants and existing staff)
  • promotion and transfer
  • training opportunities (not restricted to equality and diversity training)
  • terms and conditions of employment
  • take up of benefits (work life balance policies e.g. flexible working requests)
  • grievance and disciplinary procedures
  • resignations, redundancies and dismissals
Jason Nicholson Solicitors will provide equal opportunities information to the Legal Aid Agency as required in relation to personnel and clients under the terms of the LAA Contracts.

(d) Review

Jason Nicholson will review the operation of this policy not less than twice a year (or more regularly if we identify any non-compliance or problem concerning equality and diversity issues with clients or personnel). We will take remedial action if we discover non-compliance under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities. When reviewing the policy we will consider the outcome of monitoring and review actions under our communications and training plans.