The UK strives to promote equality in the workplace. Organisations have a responsibility to ensure that no person is treated differently because of their race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status, gender, sex or disability.
When organisations support the principle of equal opportunities, employees can rest assured they will not be discriminated against in the workplace.
If employees know they have equal opportunities they can be more committed to working hard, be motivated at work and pursue job progression.
Employers must follow certain procedures to ensure that all workers are treated appropriately and fairly.
Equal Opportunities and The Equality Act 2010
Equal Opportunities means all workers in an organisation should be entitled to and have access to all of the organisations facilities at every stage of employment, this includes the pre-employment phase.
Every employee should have an equal chance to:
- Apply and be selected for jobs;
- Be trained and promoted;
- Reasonable adjustments being made to accommodate a physical disability;
- Have their employment terminated equally and fairly.
Denying an employee their right to equal opportunity is tantamount to discrimination, which is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in society.
The Act specifies 9 areas that are classed as ‘protected characteristics’. These are:
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender reassignment
- Religious Background
Discrimination against any employee because of one of the above is against the law.
Complying with the act
For employers to comply with the terms of the Equality Act they must have policies in place that is preferably customised to the organisation and adhere to certain practices that help to prevent accident claims, discrimination and foster equal opportunities within the workplace. The policy must detail the steps that the employer will take to comply with legislation and must promote equality in the workplace.
By having a formal policy it makes it clear to employees what is expected from them and what is acceptable.
All employees and potential employees must be treated equally and be given the same opportunities regardless of the 9 characteristics listed above.
Employees have the right to:
- Fair practices and behavior in the workplace
- Fair allocations of workloads
- Equal access to terms and conditions and benefits.
- A workplace free from bullying, harassment or discrimination
- Competitive and fair selection processes for recruitment and promotions
- Fair process to deal with work-related complaints or grievances
Protection from Discrimination
Under the Equality Act you are protected from discrimination:
- In the workplace;
- Using public services such as health services or education;
- When using a business that provides a service, e.g. Cinemas, pubs, restaurants and shops;
- On public transport;
- When you are a member of a club or association;
- Contact with public bodies like councils or government departments.
4 types of discrimination
Treating one person worse than another because of a protected characteristic.
Having a rule or policy in place which applies to everyone but it has a worse impact on someone with a protected characteristic than someone without one
Treating someone in a way that violates their dignity or creates a degrading, offensive or hostile environment
Treating people unfairly if they are taking action under the Equality Act.
In discrimination cases where there is a breach of the Equality Act 2010 by an employer the two most important categories are injury to feelings and loss of earnings. Unlike unfair dismissal there is no limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded.
If you would like more information on the above or would like an Equal Opportunities Policy reviewed or written for you then please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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