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Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has signed a legally-binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to improve its approach to equality and diversity in the workplace.

The agreement comes following an Employment Tribunal decision where the DWP were found to have directly discriminated against a former employee on the grounds of age and race, as well as having allowed racial harassment and victimisation.

The employee, who is mixed Nigerian and Welsh, joined the DWP branch in Caerphilly in 2017 as the only non-White recruit and only trainee aged over 50 in her cohort. During her time at DWP, she was subjected to racist language and humiliated and discriminated against by colleagues as she was repeatedly accused of stealing.

After going on sick leave, the employee was then dismissed for being too unwell to return to work, which the Employment Tribunal ruled as constructive dismissal. The Tribunal recommended that the DWP pay out more than £386,000 in compensation and seek assistance from us in reviewing its equality and diversity training to ensure it was effectively implemented throughout the organisation.

Under Section 23 of the Equality Act 2006, the EHRC has the power to sign legally enforceable agreements with organisations who have broken equality law. We use this to ensure that significant improvements are made.

In its legally-binding agreement with the EHRC, the DWP has agreed to an action plan which includes commitments to:

  • Work with ACAS to review diversity & inclusion training and considering and implementing any recommendations the review suggests.
  • Work with the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) to review the departmental processes for handling Employment Tribunal cases and considering and implementing its recommendations.
  • Review grievance and dignity at work procedures and making any changes required.
  • Implement an Induction Review and Induction Assurance Framework to ensure greater consistency in inductions and a positive introduction to the Department.
  • Introduce Ambassadors for Fair Treatment (AFTs) across DWP to provide additional support to employees.

EHRC Wales said it will monitor DWP’s progress against the plan over the next year.

For more information on the matter, please click here.