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Cases of workplace discrimination are continuing to grow in numbers every year. According to the Independent, research issued by Sky uncovered that prejudice was still a recurring issue in UK businesses. It was also revealed that staff were primarily being targeted based on their age, gender and race.
Unfortunately, cases of discrimination are all too common in the workplace. Abuse can happy to all members of society so you should be wary of ongoing bullying and harassment at work.
It’s the responsibility of employers to ensure that their staff are protected from being treated unfairly. Identifying discrimination and dealing with it can be a delicate procedure so you need to be able to understand what qualifies as discrimination and how to prevent it.
Discrimination is when you treat an individual unfairly due to their characteristics. To clarify what technically counts as discrimination, the Equality Act 2010 named nine protected characteristics.
The types of discrimination include;
Discriminating against an employee on the basis of any of these nine characteristics is against the law.
Direct discrimination could be abuse, harassment or unfair treatment because of someone’s characteristics.
Punishing a female employee for being late but not punishing a male employee who is also late regularly is an example of direct discrimination.
Another example of direct discrimination could be if you turn an employee down for a promotion purely because they’re pregnant.
Indirect discrimination comes in the form of your company rules, policies or practices that may discriminate against a particular group.
Examples of indirect discrimination could include:
Example 1: Putting out a job advert that specifies candidates must have a UK education.
Example 2: Specifying that English must be a candidate’s first language to apply for a job/promotion.
Example 3: For cost-saving purposes, requiring all employees to work a full day on Sundays to split the shifts equally.
This would be indirect discrimination to your catholic employees as this is their day of Sabbath. If you’re only enforcing this policy to save costs, you can’t argue that to discriminate is cheaper than avoiding discrimination.
Discrimination can start during the recruitment process if candidates are being chosen based on their personal characteristics. Judging someone by their financial status can also be discrimination if you use it to determine their job.
Even positive workplace discrimination can be problematic and get employers into legal difficulties. This includes awarding employees with favourable treatment through incentives and pay rises based on their gender for example. This could then lead to discrimination claims from the rest of your workforce who are treated less favourably.
There are many steps you can take to prevent discrimination in your workplace. Simple but effective changes include:
Discrimination is a very sensitive topic and can be tough to go through the procedure without expert support. If you need help with handling difficult conversations, carrying out investigations and following fair procedures, our experts are here for you.
And if you’re a Citation client, remember, we’re available 24/7 with our advice line.
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