The UK Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society by protecting people from being treated less favourably because they have a protected characteristic. The relevant protected characteristics in employment are:
• gender reassignment
• marriage and civil partnership
• pregnancy and maternity
• race (including ethnic or national origins, colour and nationality)
• religion or belief (including lack of belief)
• sexual orientation
It is unlawful to discriminate against anyone, at work or in job adverts, based on these 9 characteristics.
The act's specific “positive action” provisions are voluntary and apply exclusively to recruitment and promotion. They allow employers to encourage people with a particular characteristic to join their organisations: when choosing between two equally qualified candidates, employers are also permitted to give preference to an applicant with a protected characteristic whom they reasonably believe is disadvantaged or under-represented at work.
Protection is also extended to indirect discrimination. So, for example, individuals could bring claims against an employer on the basis of a job advert without even applying for the job. Employers need to be careful how they word their job adverts – for example, asking for “young and dynamic” candidates or “recent graduates” may discriminate against older applicants.
Further information (UK Government):
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