What is discrimination?

If you discriminate against your employee on any of the following grounds (known as 'protected characteristics'), you may be acting unlawfully:

  • Sex
  • Marital or civil partner status
  • Race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origin)
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity

When does it occur?

Discrimination can occur in an employment context:

  • In the way in which a job is advertised
  • In the decision regarding whether or not to hire an applicant
  • During the period of employment
  • In a decision to bring an employment contract to an end
  • After the employment has come to end, regarding the provision (or non-provision) and content of references

Also, men and women have the right to equal pay for equal work within the same employment.

There are guidelines and regulations for workplace discrimination that deal with age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation and/or religion or belief. The rights of the employee and the responsibility of the employer are covered in this section.

See The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service's (Acas) website for more information on equality and discrimination.

Explore the law guide