Are We Confusing Equality and Equity?

This week, we saw the introduction of two week’s paid bereavement leave for parents who lose a child under 18 years of age. There is arguably nothing more tragic than the death of a child.

This new law will come into effect in April, with the UK being the only country to offer parents the right to that time off. It will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd, whose mother, Lucy, has been campaigning since Jack drowned aged 23 months in 2010. No one who heard her in radio interviews could fail to be moved by her story, her campaigning, her compassion and her love.

As HR professionals, we generally have responsibility in our organisations for the people policies and procedures such as special leave, education, grievance etc. For a number of years, there has been a trend for these to become comprehensive and complex, often responding to new legislation or Employment Appeal Tribunal rulings. We try to keep the organisation ‘safe’ and to ensure fairness and equality. However, in responding and updating, we have often found ourselves writing policies through the lens of those who may break them, or potentially take advantage.

We have often also tried to ensure we treat everyone the same, inadvertently confusing equality and equity, yet we all know that people are people and everyone is different.

Thankfully, things are changing and there is a move to simplify and rationalise policies, to make them fairer and acknowledge that we shouldn’t write them for the recidivist but from the perspective of hardworking and loyal employees that want to give their best and to be supported.

Jack’s Law is a great opportunity to accelerate this process, helping make the NHS a great place to work and in which to pursue careers. We can start today.

Dean Royles

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