How to Make an Employee Gender Transition Plan
A crucial part of creating your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy is to make sure LGBTQ+ employees and job candidates feel supported.
As you’re establishing inclusive transgender HR policies, it’s helpful to create an employee gender transition plan. Here’s how to write a plan that will help make a more inclusive environment for people who are transgender in the workplace.
How the Law Protects Transgender Employees
There are several legislative provisions protecting transgender employees in the UK. The two key ones are The Equality Act of 2010, and the Gender Recognition Act in 2004. Additional legislation may also be in place in devolved UK regions.
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act provides protection from discrimination in respect of people who have what the Act describes as the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. It states:
“A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. A reference to a transsexual person is a reference to a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.”
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA)
This legislation allows trans people (aged over 18) to change their legal gender. The Act gives trans people the right to obtain a new birth certificate, affording them recognition of their acquired gender in law for all purposes. However, if a person has a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), it should have no bearing on their employment or employment protections, apart from providing an extra layer of privacy. Employers should treat people in accordance with their gender identity, whether or not they have a GRC and should not ask trans staff if they have one.
Other UK laws that relate to gender identity include
- Pensions Act 1995
- Employment Rights Act 1996
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Civil Partnership Act 2004
- Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
Exceptions to Normal Recruitment Law
Very rarely, it is an occupational requirement of a role to be done by someone of a particular sex. This is called a Genuine Occupational Requirement. In order to claim this, the employer must show that applying the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
What to Include in an Employee Gender Transition Plan
When you’re writing an employee gender transition plan, it’s helpful to include relevant laws, your company’s DEI mission and vision statement, guidelines for employees, and policies promoting inclusivity.
You may also want to include educational resources such as information about pronoun and name preferences and a glossary of terms. For example, you could note the difference between sex, gender identity, and gender expression and provide information about the transitioning process.
Guidelines for Employees Who are Transitioning
The UK Government Equalities Office has produced a guide for employers on the recruitment and retention of transgender staff. This includes a template for a plan.
You may choose to have employees start by telling an HR representative about their transition plan so that they have support. Next, the HR representative would meet with the employee and their direct manager to discuss their transition plan and next steps.
The group can discuss the particulars of the plan, including:
- Dates and milestones in the employee’s transition process.
- A plan for telling colleagues.
- Logistics, such as when to change the employee’s information if they change their name.
To maintain confidentiality and privacy, the employee should help decide when and how to tell colleagues about their transition, and the information they’re comfortable sharing. If the employee plans on taking off work, the HR representative can check state laws and company policies to determine whether they’re eligible for paid or unpaid leave.
Advice for HR Representatives and Managers
Effective employee transition plans include best practices for the HR department and managers. For example, you may want your HR department to organise anti-discrimination and anti-bias trainings.
You may also want an HR representative, executive, the employee’s manager, and an LGBTQ+ expert to help lead the conversation with colleagues about an employee’s gender transition. It can be valuable to have the manager and executive share their support of the employee and reiterate their commitment to creating a welcoming culture for all employees. Additionally, the HR representative and an LGBTQ+ expert can also offer to have one-on-one conversations with colleagues.
If an employee changes their name, an HR representative should work with other departments to adjust email addresses, badges, business cards, and the company website by the agreed-upon date. If an employee legally changes their name, it may be necessary to fill out new employee contracts and payroll paperwork.
Suggestions for Co-workers of Employees Who Are Transitioning
Be sure to include advice that helps co-workers be good allies to people who are transgender in the workplace. For example, you could say that co-workers should use the person’s preferred name and pronouns. You could also stipulate that co-workers not ask the employee questions about their medical history or plans and avoid asking invasive questions.
If your organisation doesn’t have one, you could create an employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. The group can help all LGBTQ+ employees feel heard and supported and can provide allies with resources and advice for helping to foster an inclusive workplace.
Policy Updates to Consider
If the HR department decides to change policies, include them in the employee gender transition plan and the employee handbook. For example, the department may choose to adjust the dress code, guidelines for restrooms and locker rooms, paid leave policy, and health insurance plan options.
If it hasn’t already, the HR team may want to edit the anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and employment discrimination policies. It can also be helpful to update the employee handbook to use gender-neutral pronouns and include gender-neutral policies.
There are also ways you can improve your hiring process and policies, such as:
- Writing more inclusive job descriptions.
- Using blind applications.
- Having hiring managers complete anti-bias training.
- Offering interview accommodations.
- Standardising your interview process.
Ready to Get the Most Out of an Inclusive Hiring Process?
Writing an employee gender transition plan is a big step toward making your workplace more inclusive. It also helps to draw in candidates seeking inclusive employers. When you are ready to hire for your next position, Monster can help you connect your inclusive strategy with qualified candidates. Find out how with a free job listing today.