Discrimination Guidelines


These guidelines are intended to assist advertisers in complying with the legislation relating to discrimination. They are not comprehensive and do not purport to provide legal advice relating to particular circumstances. Full guidance for recruiters is available on the website of the Equality and Human Rights Commission at www.equalityhumanrights.com

On October 1st 2010 the existing Race Relations Act, Sex Discrimination Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Age Discrimination Regulations was replaced by the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act prohibits unlawful discrimination in connection with recruitment and other areas of life on the grounds of ‘protected characteristics’.

Recruiters need to;
• be aware of these protected characteristics, which are set out below in summary; and
• construct recruitment advertisements so as to indicate intention to discriminate only where it is lawful to do so…

There are exceptions that make discrimination in connection with recruitment lawful in some circumstances, and these are dealt with in detail in the guidance on the EHRC website.

Discriminate unlawfully

When an employer has treated someone less favourably because of a protected characteristic (i.e. has discriminated against them) and does not have a valid defence.

Discriminating directly or indirectly

Refers to discrimination because of a person’s protected characteristic (direct); or discrimination that occurs when a provision, criteria or practice is applied that creates disproportionate disadvantage for a person with a protected characteristic as compared to those who do not share that characteristic (indirect).

Protected Characteristics

1. Age
Where this is referred to, it refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18 – 30 year olds).

2. Disability
A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

3. Gender reassignment
The process of transitioning from one gender to another.

4. Marriage and civil partnership
Marriage is defined as a ‘union between a man and a woman’. Same-sex couples can have their relationships legally recognised as ‘civil partnerships’. Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters.

5. Pregnancy and maternity
Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.

6. Race
Refers to the protected characteristic of Race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.

7. Religion and belief
Religion has the meaning usually given to it but belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (e.g. Atheism). Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.

8. Sex
A man or a woman.

9. Sexual orientation
Whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes.