Protected Characteristics In The Workplace

Posted by Chris Ringham on Jun 28, 2022 1:50:38 PM

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Discrimination can become present in the workplace. However, those subject to discrimination should gain confidence in the fact that there is legislation designed to protect them from specifically targeted discrimination - these are known as “protected characteristics”.

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What Are Protected Characteristics In The Workplace?

Under the Equality Act 2010, there are certain protected characteristics which give a worker extra protection against workplace discrimination. The nine protected characteristics are age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race, religion or belief and sex. As such, it is illegal to discriminate against a worker based on these grounds.

Workplace Discrimination Today

While we might not expect it, over a third of adults in the UK say that they have experienced some kind of workplace discrimination. This includes discrimination within an existing workplace, or not being offered a job based on a protected characteristic. The most common kind of discrimination that people have been subject to is age discrimination - one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act of 2010.

Covid-19 and Discrimination

In 2021, it was perhaps not surprising that there was an increase in people reporting that they felt that they had been discriminated against due to being in a high-risk category for contracting coronavirus. 5.3% of people responding to a survey believed that they had been refused a position due to belonging to a high-risk group.

Returning To The Office

In 2022, we have seen employees return to the office. While some are happy to go back to an office environment, there is a significant amount of people who are uncomfortable with this move. It is important to understand that some workers who are reluctant to return to an in-person work environment may fall under a protected characteristic. For example, those who have a disability or are pregnant and may therefore still be extremely vulnerable to illness, or those with severe anxiety that might be worsened going back to the office.

Have you been discriminated against in the workplace due to protected characteristics? If you feel that this applies to you, then Bowsers Solicitors would be able to assist you. We can advise you regarding your rights and help you decide how to proceed.

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Image Source: Unsplash

Topics: Employment Law