Equality & Discrimination: Understand the Basics

11th August 2015

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This guide outlines the basics of what employers of all sizes, employees and their representatives must and should do to make their workplaces a fair environment and comply with equality legislation which:

  • extends to nine areas known in law as protected characteristics: Age; Disability; Gender reassignment; Marriage and civil partnership; Pregnancy and maternity; Race; Religion or belief; Sex (gender); and Sexual orientation.
  • sets out the different types of discrimination - for example, direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation.
  • makes certain exemptions and exceptions where in some limited circumstances treating employees and job applicants less favourably can be lawful.

This is the first of three main guides for an overview of discrimination, equality and diversity. The second, Prevent discrimination: support equality, outlines how to promote and benefit from the principles of equality and diversity, and put them into practice in the workplace. The third, Discrimination: what to do if it happens, covers the basics of dealing with discrimination, including handling complaints.

There are also guides giving guidance related to individual protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion & Belief
  • Pregnancy & Maternity
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage & Civil Partnership

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