Employers Legislation

Equality Act

Main Elements of the Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is a law which aims to protect all UK citizens, including disabled people, from discrimination. Discrimination means treating you differently or unfairly because of who you are.  The law includes areas of activity such as: employment, provision of goods and services, education, healthcare, transport, housing, police service and other public bodies.

Definition of disability

A disabled person is a person with a disability. A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and this has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This means that, in general the person must have an impairment that is either physical or mental; the impairment must have adverse effects which are substantial; the substantial adverse effects must be long-term; and the long-term substantial adverse effects must be effects on normal day-to-day activities.

Employment

It’s against the law for employers to discriminate against an individual  because of an impairment.  The Equality Act 2010 protects disabled people and covers areas including:

  • application forms
  • interview arrangements
  • aptitude or proficiency tests
  • job offers
  • terms of employment, including pay
  • promotion, transfer and training opportunities
  • dismissal or redundancy
  • discipline and grievances

Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid a disabled person being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace. For example, by adjusting  working hours or providing  a special piece of equipment to help do the job.

Recruitment

An employer who is recruiting staff may make limited enquiries about a person’s health or impairment.

  • to help decide if they can carry out a task that is an essential part of the work
  • to help find out if they can take part in an interview
  • to help decide if the interviewers need to make reasonable adjustments for them in a selection process
  • to help monitoring
  • if they want to increase the number of disabled people they employ
  • if they need to know for the purposes of national security checks

A potential employer needs to think carefully about whether the question is one that is allowed to be asked at that stage of recruitment.

Redundancy and retirement

A disabled person cannot be chosen for redundancy just because they are disabled.  Any selection process for redundancy must be fair and balanced for all employees.  In the same way an employer cannot  force an individual to retire if they become disabled.

Further information

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