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How to use the questions procedure for discrimination

The ACAS Question & Answer Procedure

ACAS has provided a question and answer procedure as a special way of getting information from your employer about discrimination you are suffering or have suffered at work. You can use the procedure before you file your claim in the Employment Tribunal, or 28 days after you have filed your claim in the Employment Tribunal.  In direct discrimination, your Employer will try to persuade the Employment Tribunal that your protected characteristic was just a factor in the treatment, you are complaining of. To win, your Employer must prove that your protected characteristic was not the main reason, for their discriminatory actions, and that it just had a significant influence on the outcome. In indirect discrimination, your Employer will seek to justify their actions by saying that what they did was a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

You must submit a questionnaire within 3 months of the act of discrimination you are complaining of. It is very hard to win a discrimination claim if you don’t submit a questionnaire. The questionnaire is very important in gathering evidence to support your case. You can use it to collect information that cannot be found in any documents.


Page 6 of the ACAS Guidance sets out six steps that you should follow:

Step 1

Set out your name and address and that of the person or organisation and others who you believe have discriminated against you.

Step 2

Identify your protected characteristics which are the subject of the discrimination (race, sex, disability etc.)

Step 3

Write a short description of the treatment, or lack of treatment, or the failure to make a reasonable adjustment in the case of a disabled person to which the complaint relates and the circumstances leading up to that treatment, including key factual details.

Step 4

Identify the type of discrimination you believe might have occurred, to help your employer in answering the questions.

Step 5

Describe why you believe the treatment or disadvantage described in Step 3 might be unlawful, to help identify some of the areas of disagreement and help your employer to address your concerns more accurately.

Step 6

Ask any additional appropriate questions that you consider might be important to the events, for example whether you have been treated consistently with your employer’s equality, discipline and grievance, bullying and harassment policies. You can also ask for statistical information to show how people with your particular protected characteristic are treated within the organisation.

The ACAS guidance goes on to set out information on how the questions should be sent to your employer and includes information on asking and answering questions relating to contractual terms and conditions for an equal pay (equality of terms) claim.

If your employer does not respond

Although your Employer is not under a legal obligation to answer questions, the Employment Tribunal may look at whether, and how, your employer has answered questions as a contributory factor in making their overall decision on your discrimination claim. The Employment Tribunal also has the power to order your employer to provide the information as part of legal proceedings.

Part-time workers and fixed-term employees

There is a statutory procedure for getting information from your employer where you are claiming discrimination on the grounds of your part-time worker status in Regulation 6 of the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

There is a statutory procedure for getting information from your employer where you are claiming discrimination on the grounds of your fixed-term employee status part-time worker status in Regulation 5 of the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

Updated: 15/03/2020


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