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Discrimination law at work

discrimination law at work

Discrimination at work

There is a great deal of discrimination law at work which spells out your right not to suffer discrimination in employment. The main piece of legislation is the Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination at work.

The Equality Act 2010 protects you because of your protected characteristics.  Protected characteristics are sex (whether you are a man or a woman), marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and age.

Types of discrimination

There are six types of discrimination at work:

Who does the law protect?

  • Job applicants and employees
  • Contract workers, including agency workers
  • Police officers and applicants to join the police
  • Partners and those seeking partnership in a firm


The Law

The Equality Act 2010

Equality Act 2010

(Equality Act 2010 detailed guidance)


Equality Act  Statutory Instruments

Equality Act 2010 (Commencement No.4, Savings, Consequential, Transitional, Transitory and Incidental Provisions and Revocation) Order 2010 (PDF format, 148K) – this order brought the main provisions of the Equality Act 2010 into force.

The Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations (SI 2010/2128) – These regulations supplement the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 (Sex Equality Rule) (Exceptions) Regulations (SI 2010/2132) – The Regulations make exceptions to the sex-equality rule in occupational pension schemes.

The Equality Act (Age Exceptions for Pension Schemes) Order and (Amendment) Order (SI 2010/2133 and 2285) – The Order makes exceptions to the prohibition on age discrimination in occupational pension schemes.

The Equality Act 2010 (Consequential Amendments, Saving and Supplementary Provisions) Order (SI 2010/2279) – The Order makes minor amendments to the Equality Act 2010 and other primary legislation.

The Equality Act 2010 (General Qualifications Bodies Regulator and Relevant Qualifications) (Wales) Regulations 2010, (SI 2010/2217)

The Equality Act 2010 (Obtaining Information) Order (SI 2010/2194) – The Order prescribes forms for an employee to obtain information from an employer and forms for responding to an employee under repealed s138 of the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 (Qualifying Compromise Contract Specified Person) Order (SI 2010/2192) – This Order extends the category of person capable of acting as an independent adviser, where advice is necessary to establish a settlement agreement, to a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives who is practising in a solicitor’s practice.

The Equality Act 2010 (Designation of Institutions with a Religious Ethos) (England and Wales) Order (SI 2010/1915)

The Equality Act 2010 (Offshore Work) Order 2010 (SI 2010/1835) – The Order confirms that part 5 of the Equality Act 2010 applies to offshore work.

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/2260) – the specific duties that support the Public Sector Equality Duty

– Quick start guide to the specific duties

The Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) (Wales) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1064) – Provide for separate specific duties for relevant Welsh public authorities

Other statutes and statutory instruments 

The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551)

The Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002(SI 2002/2034)

Employment Rights Act 1996 (sections relating to maternity and dependant carer leave)

Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

European Directives

Discrimination law at work: Equal Treatment Framework Directive (2000/78/EC)

Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (2002/73/EC)

Race Directive (2000/43/EC)

Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (2004/113/EC)

Directive on equality between men and women in matters of employment and occupation (2006/54)

Updated: 14/03/2020

Best of the Web

GOV.UK: Discrimination at work; your rights

CAB – Discrimination

Equality and Discrimination: Understand the Basics  –  Outlines the fundamentals of what employers, and employees and their representatives need to know to comply with equality law.

Prevent Discrimination: Support Equality – Explains where discrimination is most likely to arise in the workplace and how to stop it happening.

Discrimination: What to do if it happens – is a step-by-step guide covering how an employee should raise a complaint of discrimination and how an employer should handle it.

The Guardian – Discrimination at work; understanding the Equality Act 2010

BBC – Are race discrimination laws still needed in the workplace?

Huffington Post – UK Parliament poised to repeal final discriminatory law relating to homosexuality and the armed forces



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