Equality Act: Benefits and conditions

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by BrunoNoMedals, Oct 21, 2010.

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  1. BrunoNoMedals

    BrunoNoMedals LE Reviewer

    I'm led to believe that, under the Equality Act (2010), I am entitled to the same conditions and benefits as the rest of my colleagues. However, for those of you who would care to read my previous blogs on "The Abbey Wood Car Parking Farce", you'll see this is no longer the case.

    The spineless cnut O'Donaghue, who will be retiring over Christmas, a week before his brainchild scheme comes into effect, has been informed by his "legal team" that such a move is all above board. However, given the quality of MOD legal staff (they've got certificates from dbLearning, you know?) and the sheer, bare-faced stupidity of the decision, I'm not remotely convinced.

    How can MOD remove parking privileges for what will amount to around 7% of its staff, based solely on their location, without offering any recompense for the required changes in finance or lifestyle, when everyone else will be unaffected?

    There are numerous reasons as to why this decision is immoral, stupid, and possibly illegal. The big ones, as I see it, are:

    • If I walk to work it could take me up to 10 times as long - this will increase my working day by 2 hours, unpaid, without my consent.
    • If I wish to cycle to work I must purchase a bike using my own money. My journey time will still increase, meaning a longer working day without an increase in pay.
    • Walking or cycling in the dark, or in inclement weather, increases the chances I will be injured in an accident or become the victim of crime.
    • Taking public transport is slower, less reliable and significantly more expensive than using a car.
    • The location of my house implied an additional premium on its cost, due to vicinity of Abbey Wood. This vicinity will now actively reduce the value of my house as it becomes less attractive to potential buyers who may work at the site.
    These are just a few of the many points I could raise, and ignore the fact that this "solution" has been shown to be ill thought-out and unlikely to solve the problem.

    Where do I stand? Do MOD really have a legal leg to stand on when implementing this, given all the mistakes they've made in the lead-up, and all the effects it will have after implementation?
  2. What is your issue? Have you been told there is not enough space for you to park because you live too close to Abbey Wood? Have you been told that you can't park because you are Army/Civil Service? Have you been told you cannot park because you are not disabled? Have you been told that you're not important enough to deserve a space?

    If there is a shortage of parking spaces, what is your alternative? First come, first served? Does that not discrimanate against those who work the late shift?

    I very much doubt anyone will sanction building more parkling areas, so if the plan doesn't work, come up with a new plan.
  3. BrunoNoMedals

    BrunoNoMedals LE Reviewer

    Most of it's explained in the aforementioned blog (link under my username on the left).

    Basically, last winter we got a bit crowded. ABW was built for about 7000 people and now contains more lik 10,000 - going up to 12,000 over the next couple of years. When the weather draws in and the cyclists start using their cars, one of the car parks gets full and they had to turn a couple of hundred people away.

    The response has been a straight ban on parking for all staff within 3 miles of the site (unless they can prove necessity for exemption, such as registered disability). This was supposedly based on MOD guidance which says people who can walk to work in less than three miles should still be expected to turn up if their car packs up. However, the guidance is based on journey distance and the new parking rules are based on absolute radius. This means that some people are now expected to travel up to six miles without using their car.

    This is particularly serious in bad weather, as other guidance states that those people who would walk up to three miles are not expected to risk themselves travelling to work in poor conditions - but if you can drive it is considered safer. For those people stuck in the grey area, over three miles walk from site but within the three mile radius, they would be expected to walk to work, up to six miles, through snow and ice.

    Anyway, I won't risk getting into the other issues that emerge from this decision. Instead I'll focus on where the decision came from:

    Back in August an email was sent out as an "initial canvas". Staff were not aware it was coming, and had no idea as to how serious the email was. It gave all staff three options to solve parking "crisis".

    1. All staff will be charged a yearly fee for a parking space; around £200.
    2. All staff will participate in a "rainbow scheme" similar to that at GCHQ, where you get, say, 9 days a fortnight with a parking space. You book in advance, and can then choose an alternative transport method, or to work from home, on the other day.
    3. Staff within 3 miles of the site will have their parking restrictions revoke. This equated to ~1500 of the 10,000, although it was not known how many would be granted exemptions, nor how many drove in the first place.

    Guess which option most people went for?

    It turns out that the results of this seemingly-random survey were used as the be-all and end-all, and CDM announced, out of the blue barely two months ago, that the removal of parking privileges for those in three miles would start in January. No union consultation, no further staff consultation. Deal done.

    The best bit is, the rainbow scheme (which apparently works extremely well at GCHQ and would be applicable across the entire staff, so completely equal) had been planned for implementation for two years. CDM, however, decided it cost too much and binned it - even though we're already paying money for a corporate desk-booking scheme to handle the fact that, like parking spaces, we don't have enough desks for all our staff.

    The logical choice would be to book your parking space with your desk, because one is useless without the other. Unfortunately it's all being run by people who aren't affected, so they couldn't care less.

    Basically, it's one big fucking farce.

  4. BrunoNoMedals,

    I saw no mention in your posts (I have not read your blog) about car sharing. Surely it makes sense that where possible, car journies are shared.

  5. BrunoNoMedals

    BrunoNoMedals LE Reviewer

    If you live in three miles and car share, then yes you can still park. This does assume, however, that you can find someone with whom to car share, and it does not adversely affect your working habits. It can also make you overly dependant on a colleague, and if they were to be out sick or at an off-site meeting, or on leave for an extended period of time, you're back in the same boat.

    Forcing local staff to make these choices and changes while allowing others to continue unaffected is still discriminatory, with a massive delta between the working benefits afforded to different "classes" of staff.

    I go back to my original question: Is it legal to place all these cost, time and lifestyle burdens on one set of staff without applying it equally across the board?
  6. Let the TU sort out the legal issues - you'll get nowhere by yourself.

    What I would commend to you is an alternative strategy. You have a legal right to be considered for flexible working, including working from home. The fact that you are prevented from driving to work significantly adds to your case, as does the hot-desking policy - by working from home you are helping to ease the pressure on both these issues, and it may be difficult for your management to argue that it is impossible to authorise home working due to the nature of your job.

    A DII laptop, a publicly-funded telephone and you're away.
  7. BrunoNoMedals

    BrunoNoMedals LE Reviewer

    Well that's kind of the point... I already do! But as I'm sure you're aware, working from home only gets you so far before it starts affecting business. Sometimes (I'd argue most of the time) you need to be in the office to get stuff moving properly. This is why I can't understand not implementing the rainbow scheme - if everyone had to find an alternative arrangement once a fortnight (which would probably be covered by a meeting off-site most of the time) it doesn't impact the business half as much as having 5%+ of your workforce suddenly stop coming into the office because it's too much hassle.

    Also, to WFH for three or more days a week, regularly, you have to have your house formally assessed and a specific working area developed (at MOD expense, granted) in accordance with DSE regulations. That's a huge pain in the arrse when you've only got a small house.

    I don't mind helping out, easing the parking situation - what I resent is being given a blanket ban that stops me driving into work ever. It's short-sighted and liable to cause more trouble than it solves.

    I got the TUs involved and they've gone mental; I just hope the indignation fuels them enough to get this whole thing canned. MOD essentially told everyone that this was all being implemented with TU blessing - the TUs called bullshit, saying they'd been sent an email informing them of the decision, and that they'd never been offered the chance to discuss the issue prior to the decision being finalised. This is yet more reason why I doubt the legality claims.