Employee Relations


What is discrimination?

As an employer, you need to understand what constitutes discrimination in the workplace. Not only do your employees deserve to be treated equally and without prejudice, but you could be breaking the law if you don’t.

The Equality Act 2010 defines the following nine protected characteristics:

  1. Sex
  2. Race
  3. Age
  4. Disability
  5. Religion or belief
  6. Pregnancy or maternity
  7. Marriage and partnership
  8. Sexual orientation
  9. Gender reassignment

If you treat staff (or potential staff during a recruitment process) differently based on these protected characteristics you are breaking the law.


Types of discrimination

The UK Government defines the following as types of discrimination:

  • Direct Discrimination – treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than others
  • Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage
  • Harassment – unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them
  • Victimisation – treating someone unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment

Discrimination in the workplace, perhaps justifiably, does have a reputation for being a bit of an employment minefield. If you need expert advice, speak to SBHR – our experienced HR specialists are on hand to answer your questions.