Equality in the Workplace
Posted on 8th June 2021 at 11:31
Many business owners recognise that equal opportunity in employment is important and any act of discrimination is unlawful. They also recognise that dignity at work and ensuring that everyone is treated with respect are important aspects of working life. To assist businesses to achieve these outcomes we have put together information below.
Companies need to ensure that no employee or job applicant receives less favourable facilities or treatment on grounds of sex, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, national origins, religion or belief, age, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, sexual orientation, or someone is married or in a civil partnership or are placed at a disadvantage by imposed conditions, requirements or practices which cannot be shown to be justified. These are known as "protected characteristics".
In addition, businesses should avoid unlawful discrimination in all aspects of employment including recruitment, promotion, opportunities for training, pay and benefits, discipline and selection for redundancy. Candidates for employment or promotion should be assessed objectively against the requirements for the job, taking account of any reasonable adjustments that may be required for candidates with a disability.
To help further it is important to understand and consider the definitions of unlawful discrimination:
• Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another because of a protected characteristic. An example of direct discrimination would be refusing to employ a candidate because he/she is disabled. In limited circumstances, employers can directly discriminate against an individual for a reason related to any of the protected characteristics where there is an occupational requirement. The occupational requirement must be crucial to the post and a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
• Indirect discrimination is where a policy, condition or practice is applied that is discriminatory to individuals who have a protected characteristic such that it would be to the detriment of people who share that protected characteristic compared with people who do not, and it cannot be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
• Harassment is unwanted conduct which affects the dignity of women or men at work; it encompasses unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour which denigrates or ridicules or is intimidating. The essential characteristic of harassment is that the action(s) is unwanted by the recipient.
• Associative discrimination is where an individual is directly discriminated against or harassed for association with another individual who has a protected characteristic.
• Perceptive discrimination is where an individual is directly discriminated against or harassed based on a perception that he/she has a particular protected characteristic when he/she does not have that protected characteristic.
• Victimisation occurs where an employee has suffered a detriment, such as being denied a promotion because he/she made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act 2010, or because he/she is suspected of doing so. However, an employee is not protected from victimisation if he/she acted maliciously or made or supported an untrue complaint.
• Failure to make reasonable adjustments is where a physical feature or a requirement, procedure or practice puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with someone who does not and the employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments to enable the disabled person to overcome the disadvantage.
Businesses should also not discriminate unlawfully against customers using or seeking to use goods, facilities or services provided by the company.
To achieve equality requirements businesses can adopt the following:
• Provide training in equal opportunities and dignity at work to all employees including specialist training for managers and employees involved in the recruitment process.
• Ensure that all employees avoid unlawful discrimination by promoting equality requirements and dealing promptly with any discriminatory conduct
• Encourage employees to report any discriminatory practice by others
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