The University's Legal Obligations

The University is a public sector body.

As such it is subject to both the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The following resources will help you understand the University's legal duties:


Gender Discrimination

In 1970, Parliament passed the Equal Pay Act, designed to ensure that men and women are paid the same level for the doing the same work. In 2016, research from UCU showed that it would take until 2050 to close the gender pay gap in UK universities, and that women were still be overlooked for promotion and for appointment to senior positions.

Ensuring that everyone is paid the same for equal work is one aspect of UCU's commitment to ending gender discrimination. As a branch, we can carry out Equal Pay Audits to ensuring the University is complying with the law.

However, gender discrimination is about far more than pay.

The following resources relate to parental rights, combatting domestic violence and sexual harassment and LGBT+ rights.

If any member is affected by any of these issues, please contact us in confidence, or contact the UCU Equalities Unit directly.

Model Policy for Branches on Domestic Abuse

Sussex UCU will be working closely with the University to ensure that the University has robust policies in place for combatting domestic abuse.

UCU has produced a model policy for branches to adopt. If members wish to contribute to Sussex's adopting or adding to this policy, please contact the Branch's Equalities Officer.

Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Any form of sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable.

UCU has produced guidance for members on what to do if they are being sexually harassed at work.

Members should contact UCU immediately if they are experiencing sexual harassment in the University, and should consider using the University's formal Grievance Procedure.

Guaranteeing Parental Rights in the Workplace

As a parent, the law guarantees you certain rights at your workplace.

If you are taking, or will take, shared parental leave, this guidance outlines your rights.

If you are on a fixed-term contract, or a casual worker, and are, or will be taking maternity leave, you have rights in relation to this. Find out about them here.


Homophobia and Transphobia

In Autumn 2016, UCU and the NUS joined together to research and write a Report into the experience and perceptions of sexual orientation and gender identity in post-School education.

You can read a summary of the final report, Pride and Prejudice in Education, here.

University Checklist for developing sexual orientation and gender identity equality

This checklist is drawn from the findings and recommendations in the Pride and Prejudice report and supplements the summarised version.

Gender identity: awareness and actions for equality

The purpose of this guide is to raise awareness about gender identity, including gender reassignment, and to identify actions that employers can take to promote and advance gender identity equality.


TUC guidance: LGBT+ equality at work

The position of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB and T) people in Britain has been transformed beyond recognition in the course of a single generation.


LGBT Equality at Work (Third Edition) provides a context for LGBT equality issues today.


LGBT members' international experiences

LGBT workers have a right to expect to be protected from discrimination under the terms of the Equality Act and their institution's equality policy.


However, during the course of working for your college or university it is possible that you may find yourself working internationally, either on a short visit or longer term basis. Sometimes you may not have a choice over where you work. Sometimes this may mean working in a country or environment that is non-LGBT friendly.

Find out more about your rights, and about what duties your employer is under, here.

Trans Guidance

The Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Post-School Education has published guidance on trans equality in post-school education. Download it here.


Equalities Work

Sussex UCU places equality at the heart of its work for members.
There are not just legal and moral cases for securing equality at work, but also business reasons too:
  • An organisation is more likely to attract people from a wider pool of talent if it is explicit in its commitment to diversity and is demonstrating this through how it operates.

  • Staff are more likely to perform well, feel motivated and committed and therefore be retained if they feel valued and respected in their working environment.

  • Similarly, people are more likely to use the services provided by

  • an organisation if they believe that they will be treated equally.

  • Students from equality groups will appreciate the visibility of themselves amongst staff.

UCU has produced a guide outlining the General Tools for Equality which can be used in Universities to help ensure an employer's commitment is translated from words to action.
On this page members will find resources which they can access in relation to different aspects of the employer's Equality Duty. If members feel anything is missing, or would like the Branch to focus on specific aspects of Equalities Work, do contact us.
Disability Discrimination

Sadly, there are a number of common workplace issues where disability discrimination occurs, despite it being illegal under the Equality Act 2010. The following guides and documents are aimed to help members understand their rights and the steps they can take, with UCU's support, to help combat discrimination at their place of work.

Performance management and sickness absence for disabled workers

This report provides information relating to sickness absence and performance management of disabled workers.

Enabling not Disabling

This report provides information on the rights of UCU members living with disabilities.

Reasonable Adjustments

The University is under a legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments to members where appropriate.

This guidance, developed with the UCU disabled members' standing committee, and provides information, examples and resources on your right to reasonable adjustments and how to negotiate for them in your branch.

Disclosing a Disability

This guide outlines some of the advantages that disclosure can trigger when related to current equality and employment law, when you are obliged to disclose a disability and when you are not, and some of the wider issues around creating a culture and a working environment where people feel able to disclose.

Disability Leave

Institutions should have a separate policy for disability leave, and this brief guide provides some useful definitions, guidance and links around what disability leave is and how it differs to regular sick leave.

A Briefing on Mental Health at Work

UCU has produced a briefing on mental health at work entitled One in Four, reflecting the one in four people who will experience some kind of mental health condition in the course of a year.

Tackling Disability Discrimination at Work

Do you feel that you are suffering from disability discrimination at this University? If so, this comprehensive guide to tackling this form of discrimination may be of us to you. Speak to a UCU caseworker about how we can help you combat your unfair treatment.


Racism and Religious Discrimination

UCU is committed to tackling workplace racism and religious discrimination. These guides and help sheets and designed to assist members who feel that they are being racially or religiously discriminated at work.

NB. UCU uses the term ‘black’ in its reports in a political sense to refer to people who are descended, through one or both parents, from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia (the middle-East to China) and Latin America. It refers to

those from a visible minority who have a shared experience of oppression. The word is used to foster a sense of solidarity and empowerment.

Tackling Workplace Racism

UCU branches have a role in challenging structures and processes within the workplace that disadvantage BAME workers. This guidance is designed to help branches and members to be active in identifying and tackling issues that affect BAME workers in general.

Black Members' Survival Guide

UCU has published the Black Members' Survival Guide. It provides vital information, advice and support for black members to defend their rights at work, progress in their careers and combat discrimination and racism in the workplace. It contains information on union structures, what to do if you are being discriminated against, the law, as well as guidance on applying for jobs and promotion and progression.

UCU Briefing Note on Religious Attire

This briefing note may be useful to members when considering the University's policies on religious attire.

UCU Anti-Semitism Leaflet

UCU is committed to combatting anti-Semitism.  It has produced a leaflet on how to challenge anti-Semitism which you can download here.