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Working for equal opportunities

hands, various ethnicities

Prospect is committed to equality for all members irrespective of sex, marital status, ethnic origin, disability, sexuality, gender identity, age, religion or belief, whether it be in the workplace or in the union.

We believe that all workplaces, and society generally will benefit from an inclusive environment.

You can find out more about our work across the equality areas using the links on the left.

Equality at work

Prospect's members' guide Equality at Work, gives an overview of the legal rights that relate to equal opportunities at work as at October 2010, when the Equality Act came into force. (You will need to log-in to download the guide).

The Equality Act 2010 applies in England, Wales and Scotland. It does not apply in Northern Ireland, which continues to have separate, though very similar, legislation.

The main difference for NI is legislation to protect those with different political beliefs. See the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland for further detail. There are also significant differences in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Equality networks

Prospect's equality networks are open to all members of the union who have a particular interest in the specific issue covered by each network. Networks include the following:

  • race equality
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+)
  • disabilities
  • womenet.

The networks assist our Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee in advising the National Executive Committee on policy and action in each arena. They also help us to:

  • provide support and advice for members in the workplace
  • campaign against discrimination in the workplace and generally in society
  • facilitate contacts between network members in order to share information and experience
  • keep people informed of conferences, seminars and other events
  • consult members on issues that affect them.

The networks do not remove or circumvent the role of branches in deciding policy, eg at our national conference.

Joining a network

You'll find a brief description of each network along with an email contact for it on our Networks page. You can sign up to most of the networks online

If you join a network, you are making no commitments. If you don't want to exchange your contact details with other members, you can elect just to receive information from Prospect, and we will be happy to receive any feedback.

Members of the networks must be cognisant of Prospect's objects in promoting equal opportunities for all, irrespective of race, ethnic origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or religion. Accordingly, the networks should not be used to disseminate any offensive views or materials.

One lay member from each network is co-opted to our Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee. Additional lay members can be co-opted from a network at the discretion of the National Executive Committee.

Interested in becoming an equality rep?

Equality is a key workplace issue and equality reps can make a real difference in ensuring that Prospect members are treated fairly and with dignity and  respect in their workplace. It is our aim to have at least one representative specialising in equalities issues within all branches. You will receive appropriate training and be kept up to date with advice, guidance and briefings.

See Becoming a Rep and speak to your Branch Secretary in the first instance.

Shared parental leave

New provisions for shared parental leave which will enable eligible parents to share leave and pay in the first year of their child's birth/adoption came into effect from 5 April 2015. They will give parents the flexibility to decide whether they take it in turns to take time off to look after the child or to be off work at the same time.

A briefing for members and representatives sets out the rights to shared parental leave and includes a negotiating checklist.

ACAS has also produced Shared Parental Leave: a good practice guide for employers and employees which includes examples and scenarios. There is also a very useful info graphic summarising the steps both employees and employers must take. The SPL pages on the ACAS website also contain some very helpful template letters and an example policy.

The Working Families website also contains some very useful advice and information on Shared Parental Leave which includes tools to help parents work out what is best for their family on the Advice & Information pages.

Working Families

Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance organisation. The charity helps working parents and carers and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work.

They, along with a number of trade unions, have developed a manifesto for 2015 which Prospect has signed up to. The manifesto covers key policy actions that the government must take if work is actually to work for families in the areas of: Time, Equality at work and at home,  Money and Childcare infrastructure.

Bereavement and the workplace

Prospect has been supporting Lucy Herd, of Jack’s Rainbow, in her campaign for a statutory right to paid bereavement leave. Over the past 12 months Lucy, together with others like Cruse Bereavement Care, have been working with ACAS to develop new workplace guidance on dealing with bereavement in the workplace. The new guidance “Managing bereavement in the workplace - a good practice guide” has recently been published by ACAS.

Prospect has also produced guidance for our members and reps in Equality Briefing No 35

Equality briefings, resources and digests

Equality Briefings provide advice and guidance on a range of equalities issues. We also have a briefing which has links to Prospect's equality resources, including guides, posters and leaflets etc. Equality Digests alert representatives and members of equality networks to recent circulars, newsletters, email alerts, events etc

Equality Briefings

Equality Digests


The TUC website has a wide range of information on equal rights for women and men and part-timers' rights, equality for black workers, lesbian and gay rights, and disability issues. Its Changing Times website will help reps and employers develop workable strategies for balancing life at work with life outside.

The TUC and CBI have published a joint report which contains case studies featuring businesses of all sizes that have developed a more diverse workforce. "Talent Not Tokenism" can be downloaded here.

The TUC has a guide on how to persuade employers of the benefits of family friendly policies at work. It makes the case for good family friendly working practices and features case studies where unions have negotiated forward thinking policies with employers. Family Friendly Rights: Transforming Britain's Workplaces can be downloaded here.

EHRC: Working Better: A managers’ guide to flexible working This guide “is designed to help business managers discover and implement innovative working methods which improve productivity and customer service, save money and enable employees to balance their work and personal lives”. It has sections covering business benefits, key principles, creating a flexible workplace and key management skills.

There are case studies of both large and small organisations and a Q&A section about dealing with challenging situations. A chapter containing personal stories demonstrates the benefits of flexible working for employees.

See other pages in this area of the site for links on specific equalities issues.