Changes to the Commission – setting the record straight

by Rebecca Hilsenrath

Published: 10 Feb 2017

The world we are working in has changed since we were formed 10 years ago, and that means we need to change with it. Our mission is vital and to deliver our important work we need to be a forward-thinking organisation with the right skills and experiences.

Our remit has been altered, our budget has been reduced significantly and the context of our work is changing rapidly in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU and debates about the legal framework for human rights. 

Many of our partners urge us to speed up progress and we agree with them. We want to be an even more muscular regulator, so we have made changes to strengthen our rapid response investigations team. We want to build on our reputation as an expert, evidence-based authoritative body, whose research on equality and human rights is seen as second to none.

We must be focused on delivering outcomes that improve society, and to achieve this we need to make changes to ensure we have the right skills and experience at the Commission. We can’t deliver our remit effectively by avoiding difficult decisions or opting for the status quo. These changes are difficult but a failure to make them would significantly damage equality and human rights in Britain, and our ability to fulfil our mission.

There has been misreporting recently on the changes we are making. Yes, we have had to make some staff redundant. That is not an easy decision to make and it has saddened us that it has to be done.

The number of people who face compulsory redundancy is 11. We have worked immensely hard to significantly reduce compulsory redundancies. Claims and reports that any staff member was sacked by email are untrue. Our process has been lengthy and staff have been kept fully informed at all times. Face to face meetings took place over recent weeks to notify individuals when redundancy letters would be issued, and the unions chose to strike on this day due to the forewarning.

The full notice period is being paid to these employees as this will give every person the chance to focus on securing alternative employment. The application of compensation in lieu of notice is not uncommon across the public sector and claims to the contrary are inaccurate. We will continue to provide full support to people without roles for the next six months through an outplacement provider, which will include providing coaching and training on CV writing, interview techniques, and access to an online resource to help with job search.

Any decision to make any employee redundant has been based on a thorough assessment of their skills and experience.

We have made reasonable adjustments and positive action where appropriate to identify suitable alternative employment within the Commission for staff who were at risk, to accommodate a significant number of additional disabled and BAME staff into roles.

We will now work harder to develop skills and strengthen the way in to senior roles for under-represented groups. That is why we are setting ourselves targets to increase the representation of disabled and BAME staff in senior roles, supported by a new positive action programme.

We are deeply saddened by having to make these changes but we have made sure that the process has been fair, robust and transparent. The steps we have taken will ensure we can still deliver our ambitious programme and that we will remain a robust and independent voice in the delivery of our primary, overarching responsibility - to protect the rights of people and communities across the country.