Discrimination is an area of employment law that businesses cannot afford to get wrong. Employers can find equal opportunities to be a minefield because discrimination isn’t always conscious; it can be based on assumptions that employers might somehow find logical but which are in fact discriminatory.
Examples abound where age is concerned. Even today we often see job advertisements in newspapers that specify that the employer is looking for a “senior” or “young” employee, which clearly discriminates on the basis of age. Other times, the language used is less straightforward but the implication is clear: “recent graduate” or “highly experienced”, for example.
There are occasions when age can be taken into account, for example if alcohol is being served, the employee might need to be 18 years old, although even then, there are exceptions; supermarket checkout staff might be able to get an older member of staff to process alcoholic purchases; and a waiter in a restaurant does not need to be 18 if they are not serving alcohol.
Age is just one of a range of personal characteristics that can be the basis for discrimination, and most employers will be familiar with the types of thing that can be the basis of a claim for discrimination. The rest are:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
It’s important to recognise that discrimination can take place at any stage along the employment pathway, from job adverts and applications to dismissal. Any time a person is deemed not to be getting fair and equal treatment because of one or more of the factors listed above, employers could find themselves accused of discrimination and face tribunal or legal action.
How Peninsula can Help with your Equal Opportunity Policy
Equal opportunities is such a wide and complex part of employment law that employers have to be constantly up to date with legislation if they are not to fall victim to it. The situation is made more precarious by employers who might think they understand the law but whose views are in fact quite outdated or ill-informed – and you might be one of them!
Peninsula can get your equal opportunities policy off to a good start by making sure there is not a hint of discriminatory language in the job advertisements you publish, and then ensure that any application forms are compliant with the law. We can also ensure your business is protected when drafting terms and conditions of employment.
And should an employee or ex-employee suddenly come to you with a discrimination claim, we can advise you on the steps you need to take so that you can be seen to be taking appropriate steps towards resolving the issue. The complainant might actually have a case, and it’s important that you react appropriately. With the help of our legal experts, you’ll be covered at every stage from discrimination claims. Contact us online or call 0800 328 9348 and we’ll be pleased to discuss your requirements.