In 2010, the Equality Act (the Act), was enacted to consolidate and strengthen laws that protect people from discrimination and disadvantage. The Act replaced several previous laws, consolidating them into one Act to make it easier for everyone to understand their rights.
Legal claims concerning discrimination and equality in the workplace can be very damaging to a business and for that reason all businesses must be alert to their statutory duty.
What Is Discrimination?
Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people. It can also be the unequal treatment of an individual or group under the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly because of their protected characteristic. These include:
- Gender reassignment
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Pregnancy or maternity
Every business must ensure that it has policies and procedures in place to ensure equal treatment in terms of services, recruitment, retention training, and promotion of staff to ensure equality in the working environment. Failure to do so could result in a business facing claims for discrimination based on one of the protected characteristics and this could result in costly tribunal claims.
What Are the Most Common Workplace Complaints?
The most common complaints in the workplace involve differences in treatment of employees or inappropriate behaviour. Examples of common issues are:
- Pay differences
- Harassment or bullying
- Inappropriate language
- Unfair recruitment or promotion process
- Unfair dismissal
What Policies Should I Have?
It is very important to have policies in place and to regularly review them to ensure they are up to date and relevant. The policies and practices should be provided to the employees and workers who may not be directly employed by the business.
Regular training should take place both at induction and throughout an employee’s time with a business. Those not directly employed should be alerted to the policies and advised of the requirement to comply with these. The consequences of failing to comply with the policies should be made known to all employees, staff, and contractors of a business. Appropriate policies include:
- Diversity and inclusion
- Anti-harassment and bulling
- Equal opportunities
- Dignity at work
- Family-friendly policies
- Flexible and hybrid working
- Disciplinary and grievance policies
The easiest way to inform the employees about these policies is through their contracts of employment, on the company intranet, and in the company staff handbook.
At Spire, our services include a free evaluation of existing policies. We can then update or create new policies to ensure your business is fully compliant and can advise the company on how to implement these.
Claims of Discrimination
Employees who believe they have a valid discrimination claim may choose to take their employer to an Employment Tribunal. They must do this within three months less one day of the act of discrimination occurring.
An Employment Tribunal normally has a cap on any award of compensation that it can award if it finds in favour of an employee. However, in the case of discrimination, the statutory cap is removed. The Tribunal may award compensation it considers reasonably just and equitable in the circumstances.
Our highly experienced and knowledgeable People Services team can give you pragmatic and timely advice on how to ensure you are complying with legal requirements as an employer.
We pride ourselves on managing issues as they arise, helping your business to plan ahead and anticipate potential problems before by putting in place relevant policies. If an issue does arise, we help you to resolve any claims as quickly as possible to minimise the risk to your business.
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