The Equality Act 2010 Regulations 2023 came into force on 1 January 2024. We are now almost halfway through the year and the legal challenges are starting to hit the Employment Tribunals. Just to remind you what this is and how it affects you:

It reinforces existing discrimination protections but also introduces some changes that all employers NEED to know and NEED to ensure they are protecting themselves. The penalty in the Tribunal for Discrimination is uncapped and six figure sums are not unusual.

Most employers have heard the phrase, ‘protected characteristics’ but many are blind to the other areas of this Act that have now been bolstered and broadened.

Indirect Discrimination by Association – this allows claims from employees who do not directly (or themselves) possess a protected characteristic but can claim if they suffer similar disadvantages from an employer’s policies and practices.

What does that mean? – If you have a rule, policy or practice which applies to all employees but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic.  This is opposed to direct discrimination where someone is treated less favourably because they have or are thought to have a protected characteristic.

This includes age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins ‘caste’), sexual orientation, religion, or belief, or because someone is married or in a civil partnership.

Equal Pay Comparator – Single Source Test – There is now an introduction of a single source example to prove and establish an equal pay comparator.

What does that mean? It means that this test (or example comparator) can potentially operate in a different business as long as the entity setting the terms remains the same.

Definition of Disability – this will explicitly include consideration of an individual’s ability to participate fully and effectively in working life when considering whether they can undertake day-to-day activities.

What does that mean? This puts the onus on the employer to make sure that they are acting appropriately and obtaining the correct advice and evidence to support an employees stance as well as understanding just what does the law mean by ‘ability to participate fully and effectively in working life’

Extension of Direct Discrimination Protection – this will include statements indicating a reluctance to recruit individuals with specific protected characteristics – this applies even when there is no active recruitment process or even an identifiable victim.

Breastfeeding Discrimination – this is an area that is bolstered and protected under the characteristic of sex with more considerations that employers have to make.

It is important that you have a robust policy, that you train your managers, that your other policies such as grievances and sickness are also in line and robust.

DO NOT leave it to chance, the ‘no win no fee’ legal profession issue more claims for discrimination than any other and legally often it is ‘low hanging fruit’

Defending such a claim is costly and if you lose then it can take down a small business.

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