Gender reassignment is the process in which individuals change gender. To be included within the protected characteristic of gender reassignment, the individual does not need to undergo any medical treatment or intervention.
There is no requirement for a transsexual individual to inform your organisation of their gender reassignment, either prior to or during their employment. To also avoid breaching the individual’s privacy, you should meet with the employee, in private, to discuss sharing any information with necessary third parties. In addition, you must make sure an employee is not ‘outed’ as being transgender or a transsexual as this is likely to breach privacy laws.
Where you are aware that a job applicant or employee has undergone gender reassignment, you must not ask to be provided with a gender recognition certificate. Instead, your organisation should proceed as if they have received this certificate and the individual’s affirmed gender is legally recognised.
Diversity and equality training carried out by your organisation should include information on appropriate terminology and language to use when speaking to, or about, a transsexual or transgender individual within the workplace. You may experience situations where members of staff are using inappropriate, derogatory or insulting terms and phrases about individuals who are undergoing, have undergone or are proposing to undergo gender reassignment. It is vital that you take immediate action to prevent this occurring; this may be informal action although most cases will require formal action.
Recruitment decisions made by your organisation should also be based on objective criteria necessary for the role, such as skills, experience and qualifications. When writing recruitment documents such as the job advert, job description or person specification, you should make sure these are free from any gender specific language. Furthermore, when conducting interviews, you should take care to avoid assuming the individual’s gender matches their appearance.
Your organisation should trust individuals can choose appropriate facilities depending on their affirmed gender. To reduce the risk of concerns or complaints from other members of staff, you can communicate your organisation’s stance on the use of facilities to the workforce.
In addition your organisation should implement the dress code flexibly to allow transsexual staff the opportunity to amend and follow the dress code as per their gender identity.
Employees who are absent from work because of gender reassignment are provided additional protection under the Equality Act. It will be discriminatory for your organisation to treat a employee less favourably for taking time off for gender reassignment than they would treat an employee who is absent from work because of sickness or another reason. When carrying out action under your organisation’s absence procedures, you should also avoid including any time off work for gender reassignment when assessing whether an employee has reached the trigger point for formal action.
Your organisation should take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment occurring in the workplace. Implementing a clear, well-drafted equality and diversity policy will be a good first step as this can set out your organisation’s stance on equality in the business. To reflect the diverse and inclusive nature of the business, your organisation may choose to introduce a specific gender reassignment policy.
aspire cambridge can provide you with an equality and diversity policy or a specific gender reassignment policy; to find out more, contact our team of CIPD accredited HR Consultants on 01223 855441.