Equality and Diversity Legislation – Quick Start Guide
Quick start guide to Equality legislation:
Until relatively recently, Britain had a number of different laws protecting people from discrimination e.g. The Race Relations Act, Sex Discrimination Act, Equal Pay Act etc. The situation was quite confusing.
Enter in 2010, The Equality Act. This was designed to both simplify and strengthen equality laws and to tackle new forms of discrimination. The Equality Act means that you cannot discriminate (treat less favourably) people in connection with one or more of the ‘protected characteristics’ shown opposite.
This applies to organisations, employers,employees and members of the public when receiving goods or services – for example in a business, shop, hospital, restaurant etc.
A café refuses to serve a customer because of their ethnic origin.
This would almost certainly be considered to be unlawful discrimination.
It is also important to note that there are some circumstances where the Equality Act may not apply. For example, a shop refusing to sell cigarettes to someone who is under 18 would NOT be considered as unlawful age discrimination as it is capable of being justified.
When am I protected by the Equality Act ?
Equality legislation applies in a number of different situations. These include:
At school or in a university / college
As a customer – for example in a shop
When buying or renting property
When using public services e.g. buses and trains
Some organisations also have a specific duty to promote equality.
How might discrimination occur ?
In a number of different ways (this is where it gets slightly more complicated !) It could be:
Directly – For example, a man is refused a job interview for a cashier in a female fashion store and is told the job requires a female to perform this role.
Indirectly – This often occurs when a rule or policy is applied – perhaps to all people, but it can unfairly disadvantage certain groups protected by The Equality Act.
Example: – Indirect Discrimination:
A mortgage company only offers loans to people who are in full time employment.
Whilst full time and part time working is not, in itself, a ‘Protected Characteristic’, according to official statistics, considerably more women work part time than men.
In this example, the mortgage company may be Indirectly Discriminating against women as it is likely that significantly more women may be affected by this policy than men.
Other types of Discrimination:
Harassment: This is unwanted behaviour or actions linked to a ‘protected characteristic’ that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment
Victimisation: For example, treating people unfairly when they have complained about discrimination or harassment.
Discrimination can also occur By Perception – when people are perceived to have a ‘Protected Characteristic’ or By Association – because of a person’s association with someone who has.
Understanding Equality Legislation:
As you can no doubt appreciate, The Equality Act can be quite complicated but it important that everyone understands their responsibilities – particularly in respect of both employment and service delivery.
McKenzie offer modern, practical and interactive training and guidance in respect of Equality legislation and have previously worked with hundreds of UK organisations to provide practical knowledge, skills and information in this area.
Please click here to find out more or click here to contact us