What are equal opportunities in relation to the Act??
Equal opportunities in the workplace are governed by the Equality Act which became law in October 2010 harmonises and replaces previous legislation such as Race Relations Act and Disability Discrimination Act
How to recognise equal opportunities in the workplace?
These are known as the protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
What forms of discrimination are addressed?
Direct: This is when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have or are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic.
Associative: This is direct discrimination against a person because they associate with someone who possesses a protected characteristic.
Perceptive: This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic. Even if they don’t.
Indirect: Discrimination can occur when a company has a rule, policy or practice which applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages someone who possesses a protected characteristic. This can be justified if it is shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
What other activities are covered by the Act?
Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct relating to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating that individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.
Third party harassment makes an employer potentially liable for harassment of their employees by 3rd parties who are not company employees. The employer only becomes liable when harassment has occurred on two occasions; you are aware of it and have taken no action to stop it.
Victimisation occurs when an employee is treated badly because they have supported or raised a grievance under the Equality Act. An employee is not protected if the compliant is malicious or has supported an untrue complaint.
Pre-employment health questionnaires are no longer permitted unless the applicant can carry out a function that is intrinsic to the job or to help you decide if you can make reasonable adjustments to enable the applicant to fulfil the job function. You can however make a job offer conditional on satisfactory completion of a questionnaire but you can’t weed people out before.
There are other items such as equal pay, positive action to increase the number of job applicants or employees who posses a specific characteristic, pay secrecy and tribunal directions all of which are more complex and require expert guidance.
What can you do?
Review your policies and procedures in this area to ensure you comply with the Equality Act. Ensure all members of staff, suppliers and customers where appropriate, are aware of your responsibilities under the Act. Seek expert help and guidance by contacting me here >>>