An online guide to monitoring where you work
Section 4 - Other ways to gather information
If your employer is not forthcoming with the information that you require, you may want to consider other ways to find out about those within your workforce.
Equality Act 2010
Under the Equality Act 2010, public sector bodies have a duty to make public how they are complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty through:
- Published data - Public authorities are now required to publish information to show that it is complying with the public sector equality duty. If the authority has 150 or more employees, this information must include details about employees that share a protected characteristic. You can therefore request this information to assist you with monitoring if you work for a public sector employer.
- Published objectives - Public authorities must also publish one or more objectives that are necessary to help it have due regard to eliminating discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.
It is important to know that public authorities were required to collect employment data up until the Equality Act 2010. Your employer may have data on:
- applications for jobs, temporary and permanent, advertised and non-advertised, and success rates at each stage of the process;
- distribution of workers in the organisation, by type of job, location, and grade;
- applications for promotion, transfer and training, and success rates for each;
- results of performance appraisals;
- grievances and disciplinary action, including the results, and tribunal decisions involving claims of racial discrimination or harassment; and
- terminations of contract (for whatever reason).
Freedom of information (FOI)
Everyone has the right to request information held by public sector bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Act ensures that the government is more transparent by giving the public a mechanism through which to find out more about government policies and the decision-making process. You have the right to request information regardless of how it was recorded and the organisation must provide the information within 20 working days.
Freedom of information (FOI) requests should be:
- Clear - set out the information you want and provide as much detail possible – for example request the number of ethnic minority people employed by the organisation on a certain date.
- Specific - Where possible, ask for specific information rather than using open-ended questions. ‘What or ‘how much’ are more likely to get a useful response than ‘why’.
- Straightforward and polite – try not to mix information requests with complaints or comments
Some information might be withheld to protect various interests which are allowed for by the Freedom of Information Act. Your request may also be refused if it is too expensive or time consuming for the organisation to deal with. If this is the case, the organisation must tell you why they have withheld information. Be aware that some authorities might charge you for expenses such as photocopying or postage. You can say how you would prefer to receive the information, for example as an electronic copy. If you plan to reproduce the information you receive, make sure you check the copyright status of it first.
Watch UNISON's National Race Equalities Officer, Narmada Thiranagama, talk about how Unison used FOI data to support negotiations on equality at a local level.
- Optional - download a summary of the Equality Act 2010
- Optional - download the questions Unison asked through their FOI request
- Optional - download a FOI template letter
- Go to Section 5 - How to use the information to hold your employer to account
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