Discrimination law & the Equality Act

Discrimination law & the Equality Act

There can be no doubt about it, the Equality Act and laws on discrimination are a major challenge for all employers.

Many small employers may be unaware, for example, that discrimination can occur legally even without there being an employment relationship (in the recruitment process or with consultants) or that employers can be held legally liable (vicarious liability) for acts of employees such as harassment even where the employer may not have been aware of the action let alone in any way sanctioned it.

The best way for small business employers to protect themselves from claims is by sticking with 3 basic principles :-

  • Remain aware of the law and ensure your staff are aware of the law on equality, diversity and discrimination
  • Make sure you have up-to-date policies, procedures and checklists
  • Be consistent in adhering to your policies and procedures and in the way you deal with a any non-compliance by staff

Having the right policies and procedures is an employers first line of defence to any possible discrimination based claim. This will demonstrate to an Employment Tribunal that your business takes discrimination and equality seriously.

Checklists are also very helpful as a day to day reminder of what you should or should not do and are particularly helpful when it comes to recruitment and dealing with possible physical disability. It is all too easy to innocently ask the wrong question at interview without a checklist or a questionnaire which can be sent to applicants and may avoid the need to ask an unlawful question at interview.

The Equality Act covers a broad spectrum of situations which include :-

  • recruitment
  • terms and conditions
  • promotions and transfers
  • discrimination in providing training
  • discrimination via unequal treatment on employee benefits
  • discrimination in dismissal
  • occupational pensions

How can we help ?

We can advise and assist with cost effective solutions for ensuring you have the right and up-to-date policies and procedures and training tools and reminders for your staff. We can also provide your business with practical checklists to help you deal with the easy to overlook or often innocent mistakes which can lead to claims. Please get in touch for further information.