This joint practice guidance is intended to support the work of Safeguarding Officers and those working with children and adults who are vulnerable where record keeping is required. This joint practice guidance has been approved by the United Methodist Church UK Mission Area, as such it is recommended that you follow this guidance.
This guidance complements both churches’ approach to record keeping and addresses those special issues that relate to safeguarding.
For many years successive Governments have introduced anti-discrimination laws both to create and to respond to changes in society, to promote civil rights and equality. From the first Race Relations Acts back in the 1960s, through to legislation on race and gender equality in the 1970s and disability rights in the 1990s, to more recent new laws on religion or belief, sexual orientation and age, Great Britain has a strong framework of equality legislation. Progress has been made in making Britain a fairer nation, but inequality and discrimination persist today.
The Equality Act 2010 replaces previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act. It simplifies the law, removing inconsistencies and makes it easier for people to understand and comply with it. It provides a framework for simpler, smarter and more streamlined processes. It also strengthens the law in important ways to help us tackle the discrimination and inequalities which still exist in our society.
The Equality Act 2010 states that discrimination occurs when a person treats another less favourably than they treat or would treat others because of a protected characteristic.
The protected characteristics are:
The legislation covers:
The act prohibits:
For further details see the Law module in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit
Typical concerns and test cases
Equality legislation is sometimes a cause of apprehension to Christians. Stories in the media can exacerbate the feeling that civic law is pitted against the belief and practice of Christians.
The law applying to two well-publicised cases in recent years is essentially unchanged under the Equality Act 2010 but provides additional clarity, which should help Christians as service providers and in their working life
This remains illegal under the new Act: denying people services on the grounds of their sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic constitutes unlawful direct discrimination.
Business and community service providers are not permitted to discriminate on protected characteristics. However, religious, community and charitable groups are allowed to do this in certain situations (see below).
The Court of Appeal decided that to require the removal of the cross did not amount to discrimination. They accepted the argument from British Airways that being a Christian did not actually require the visible wearing such items, and that employees were free to do so under their clothing.An employer may argue that religious attire, disability, or sexual orientation, makes an employee less fit for work, but in the first instance it is up to the employer to provide a work environment that includes employees, and it will need to demonstrate why adjustments have not been made.
How should the United Methodist Church relate to Equality Legislation?
For further information see the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Theological Underpinning
The initiative behind creating the single Equality Act was not only to harmonise the law but to take a legal step towards creating a fair and just society. The act seeks to recognise that people are different and need different approaches in order to allow them to flourish in the contemporary world. This underpinning value is at the heart of the gospel imperative of justice, inclusion and to love our neighbours and with this understanding the Act is to be welcomed.
It is important, therefore, to challenge the perception that the law is ‘biased against Christians’. It is undeniable that secular law has taken a different view of justice and moralities to some Christians, however in the vast majority of cases this legislation is not only compatible but can actively safeguard social justice and inclusion, helping to bring about God’s Kingdom, which is a Kingdom of Diversity, united in the love of Christ.
All new forms of communication provide opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world. They come, however, with new values. Whereas the printed word has a certain finality of declaration about it, social media is interactive, conversational and open-ended. Moreover, it happens in a public, not private, space. The United Methodist Church UK Mission Area therefore encourages the user to use social tools as a means of engaging in an interactive conversation with people of all faiths and none. As Gospel people, our conversation should be ‘seasoned with salt’ (Colossians 4:6), and these guidelines aim to help us to do so.
The principles applied to this are: