As with our previous Health and Safety Lead our previous Equality Lead, Keith Fagan has gained promotion to the Inspecting ranks. Our new Equality Lead is Sharon George.

The world of equality is ever evolving; with organisational as well as personnel lessons being learnt. This said there are still many things that can be done better, including the treatment of staff.

We will mention three “new” areas, which can be developed to the benefit of staff within the Constabulary, these being the Equality Bill, which is rather a large piece of legislation, which we urge you to read. Once we have grasped the full implications of this Bill for the organization, we will undoubtedly provide a précis.

The second area being looked at by several of the Forces around the country is the Disability passport, which is a scheme used for officers with medical restrictions having those restrictions documented on a “passport”. There will also be an explanation of all that needs to be known medically, and documentation of what duties an officer can or cannot perform. The idea behind this system is to prevent officers having to suffer any unnecessary embarrassment and painful reminders of all that they have already endured.

At the moment within Gloucestershire instead of a passport that the officer will carry, HR is making use of workforce records.

The third area is the “Fit Note”, which from the 6th April 2010, replaced the sick note. The Fit Note should provide advice about whether or not an individual with a health condition is fit for some work. This new fit note is aimed at helping people, with help from their organization, to return to work as they recover.

This note will, may, should help the person recover, because for many people work helps the recovery process, and it will also be of benefit to employers by reducing sickness absence.

With the change from Sick note to Fit note the Doctor will be able to provide more information on the patient’s condition, and suggest how they might be able to return to work. There will be a new option for a Doctor to advise if an employee may be fit for work with support.

The fit note is about removing the challenges preventing employees returning to work, accepting that the longer someone is away from work, the harder it is for them to return.

This should be done in a supportive personnel way, and on an individual basis, rather than see it as a corporate way of bullying the member of staff back to work before they are physically or mentally able to return.