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Equal Opportunities

Volume 168: debated on Wednesday 28 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he has taken to implement an equal opportunities policy in his Department.

Since 1984 my Department has had a designated equal opportunities officer who, in addition to other duties, has to co-ordinate policy and advise on all aspects of racial and sexual discrimination. A joint management and trade union group has met regularly to take forward the proposals set out in the programme of action on equal opportunities for women in the Civil Service. Progress has been made on all fronts.The amount of part-time working has increased and a much greater use is made of reinstatement. Staff have been advised of progress through office notices and specially prepared leaflets, and training courses and guidance material now give prominence to the anti-discrimination legislation. My Department is currently considering the case for provision of child care facilities and will shortly apply the recent relaxation of Civil Service rules which allow special unpaid leave for domestic reasons to be granted for up to five years.Ethnic monitoring of recruitment is undertaken and efforts will continue to increase the ethnic intake to better reflect the proportion in the community. My Department has also undertaken a survey of the ethnic origins of staff as part of the nationwide survey of civil servants. The information is kept up to date by the completion by new entrants to the Department of a questionnaire showing their ethnic origin.