FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOW THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 WORKS
You probably know the basics: there are nine ‘protected characteristics’ on which employers cannot discriminate. These are age; whether you have a disability; your race; your sex; your sexual orientation; if you are undergoing gender reassignment; religion or belief; pregnancy or maternity; and your marital status. But some of the Act’s intricacies are complex…
DIRECT VS INDIRECT
Direct discrimination seems pretty clear. You can’t, for example, be sacked for coming out or for getting pregnant, but ‘indirect’ discrimination can also be illegal. An example of this could be disciplining a person because of poor attendance that’s caused by a disability.
It’s not illegal to positively discriminate, but there are a few caveats. You can help under-represented people overcome their disadvantage by offering targeted internships or placements, but when it comes to recruitment, you can only take a protected characteristic into account if candidates are equally qualified.
If you have two people of different genders doing similar jobs then it’s illegal to pay them different salaries. And if you want to discuss your salary with other employees in order to find out if there’s a pay gap, the Act means your boss can’t take action. Pay also includes bonuses, and new legislation coming in next year requires employees with more than 250 staff to report their pay gap, including bonuses.
Employers can only ask interviewees about their health for four reasons: to establish whether they can carry out a function essential to the job, to take ‘positive action’ to assist disabled applicants, to confirm that a candidate has a disability if it’s necessary for the role, or to monitor diversity.
If you have a disability, your employer is duty-bound to change their way of working so you can do your job in the same way a non-disabled person would be able to. This can mean allocating work to a colleague if your disability means you can’t meet targets, giving you extra breaks, or making what are called ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the office (see page 42 for more info).