People are a company’s greatest asset. It is thus of paramount importance that a business looks after their employees and this includes supporting trans employees in the workplace.
It is crucial for employers to review their existing arrangements in the workplace to make them more trans inclusive. These include:
Employers may wish to develop a specific policy to support trans employees in the work environment. This could include detailing the appropriate terminology to use and what happens when employees transition at work, including the procedures for changing relevant records and dealing with absence and confidentiality. It is important to remember that this is an evolving area and so any policies must remain flexible to allow for adaptation to fit the needs of each trans individual.
Employers may wish to update equality monitoring and application forms to include additional questions and answers. This can involve providing the option of “prefer not to say”, “other”, or “use your own term”. All information provided should be dealt with confidentially.
This is also a good opportunity to adopt a wider policy of gender-neutral language. This can cover application forms, job adverts and job descriptions. Many social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, now have the choice to display your chosen pronouns. This is a great way to let other employees know how each person would like to be addressed. This could be included in email footers or on the staff directory.
Employers may also wish to detail in their absence management policy that absence due to gender reassignment is dealt with differently to usual absence. The Equality Act provides an employee with protection for taking time off in relation to gender reassignment.
All employees should receive regular training on equality, and this should involve the protection of gender identity and trans rights. Staff who are involved in recruitment of staff should be trained on the special legal protection that applies to those who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Further training on the importance of pronouns and exploring topics such as misgendering and deadnaming should also be on the list.
It is also becoming increasingly important for staff to receive social media training to explain the impact an individual’s views can have on others and when these may amount to unlawful harassment.
Confidentiality and privacy
It is important that care should be taken to ensure that an employee is not identified as trans unless they give explicit permission for the employer to tell other staff. If the employee is in the process of transitioning, then the employer must ask the trans employee how they wish to approach this with colleagues.
To prevent accidentally identifying an employee as trans, the employer must ensure that the individual’s old records cannot be accessed. An example of this happening is when a man was “outed” when his HR records showed that he had taken a period of maternity leave several years earlier.
Another important issue that needs to be address is the toilet facilities available to trans staff. ACAS suggests that employers should consider installing individual toilet cubicles that cater for all staff regardless of their chosen gender. It is vital not to tell trans employees to use the disabled toilet unless they themselves wish to do this.
There is no specific protocol to follow when ensuring that a workplace is fit for all employees. The main point to take away is that an employer should ensure that all staff members feel welcome and comfortable in the workplace. The steps above can show employees that the company will support them.
From a legal perspective, it is vital that the company uses a mix of policy changes and updates, awareness training for all staff and encourage an inclusive workplace culture.
If you would like to speak to a member of the Spire Employment team about creating a more trans inclusive workplace or if you would like to discuss any points in this article, please contact us on 01603 677077.