Guide index - HR employment law and your business

Equality and discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone at work because of their:

It is also unlawful to discriminate against anyone because of their membership (or non-membership) of a trade union.

Discrimination in the workplace can also apply to workers who may not be employees – people who carry out work, even though they may not be employees under a contract of employment, such as contract workers or partners in a firm.

Employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees towards other employees.

Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate people with disabilities in employment.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that a disabled person has the same access to everything that is involved in getting and doing a job as a non-disabled person, as far as is reasonable.

When the duty arises, the employer is under a positive and proactive duty to take steps to remove or reduce or prevent the obstacles a disabled worker or job applicant faces.

The employer is not required to do more than what is reasonable, and what is reasonable to do can depend, among other factors, on the size and nature of their organisation.

But if, however, they do nothing, and a disabled person can show that there were barriers that they should have identified and reasonable adjustments they could have made, a claim may be made in the Employment Tribunal, and the business may be ordered to pay compensation as well as make the reasonable adjustments.

Employers must not ask questions about health or disability during the recruitment process until a job offer has been made, except in certain specific cases.

Employees or job applicants who believe they have been discriminated against at work or during the recruitment process can make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

There is no qualifying period to be able to make a discrimination claim.

There is no limit on the amount of compensation Employment Tribunals can award in discrimination cases.