Equality at Workplace for Employees
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Introduction to Employment Law And Relations
In modern era, equality at workplace is one of the major issues which employees and organization faces. Every employee strives for the equal treatment as well as for equal growth opportunity in organization. Discrimination regarding sex, race, religion, disability and pay grade affects the performance of employees in an adverse manner (Daniels, 2012). Further, this restricts the growth opportunities and lowers down the morale of employees. In order to eliminate the discrimination among workers, Equality Act came into force in the year 2010. This report covers all the aspects of Equality Act and other legislation that are linked to discrimination and which encourages the equality at workplace and protects the rights of employees as well. In addition to this, nine protected characteristics within the Act have been highlighted in this report.
Awareness Of Current Law On Discrimination
Equality Act 2010
Equality at workplace has always been an important issue for organization and workers. In order to provide fair and equal treatment to employees, the Equality Act came into existence in 2010. It provides a legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. It highlights some protected characteristics such as gender, age, race, belief, religion, age, disability etc. In addition to this, 116 different pieces of legislation have been clubbed together in this single act (Becker, 2010). The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 are some important acts which have been included in this Equality Act 2010.
Discrimination legislation in UK provides protection against the unfair dismissal and contractual terms of employment. Further, it promotes equality for promotion, transfer opportunities, training, redundancy, recruitment and payment benefits. In order to resolve the dispute regarding discrimination at workplace, regulatory body is developed i.e. United Kingdom employment equality law by British Parliament (Daniels, 2012). It is an integral part of UK labour law in order due to act of unfair discrimination is considered in category of offence. Following aspects are covered in equality framework-
Direct discrimination occurs in situation where employer treat an employee less favourably on the basis of protected characteristic. Such acts are unlawful in accordance with the Section 13 of the Equality Act 2010 (Kenner, 2003). If there is situation of discrimination then employer is required to provide justified reason for indifference. European Court of Justice had provide confirmation that each person is entitled to make claim of discrimination even they re not covered in provisions of protected characteristics by the case precedent of Coleman v Attridge Law
According to the Section 26 of Equality Act 2010, an individual is said to harassed if they are engaged in undesirable conduct due to their protected characteristic. In addition to this, conduct should be violating of dignity or should be able to create hostile, intimidating, humiliating, degrading, or offensive environment.
According to the Section 26 of Equality Act 2010, victimization can be defined as an act of subjecting a person to further detriment because they had tried and made claim against the act of discrimination conducted by employer (Larson, 2013).
In accordance with the Section 19 of Equality Act 2010, indirect discrimination is also unconventional act. Indirect discrimination occurs when applicability of any provision in workplace have negative impact on individual which is not objectively justified. For this aspect case of Ojutiku v Manpower Services Commission  EWCA Civ 3,  ICR 661 can be considered.
Impact Of Eu Law On Employment Relations
There is high influence of European law on employment law and employment relations. European Union (EU) employment law provides protection to employees from the unfair conditions of employment contract. In this aspect, conditions such as part-time and fixed-term work, equal pay, working time, discrimination and the protection of pregnant workers is covered. Organizations are required to form their work policies in accordance with provisions (Wadham, and et. al. 2010). Objective of these provisions is to ensure that there are fair policies and employer is not taking unjustified benefit of their workers. Following provisions are inserted by the virtue of UK membership in European Union-
- An employer is required to provide minimum 28 paid annual leaves to their workers including days of bank holidays.
- Ancillary right for temporary workers, agents and part-time workers.
- Leave rights to female employees in period of maternity and pregnancy.
- Provision of paternal leave for male employees.
- Working time regulations for employees. (In accordance with this provision, employer cannot insert more than 48 working hours in a week in employment contract. In addition to this, there should be appropriate rest breaks for employees each day).
- Employers are required to provide equal pay to the workers for the similar work.
- There should be anti-discrimination law in workplaces by considering protected characteristics such as age, sexual orientation, sex, disability and age.
- Employer is also required to ensure proper implementation of data protection rights in workplace. They should not disclose information of employee for unjustified benefit.
Equality Act 2010 have its own advantages and disadvantages in workplace. This Act is developed to provide protection to employees from unfair biasness. With the provisions of Equality Act, employer are able to create positive work environment where employees are motivated to provide better performance (Whincup, 2008). Further equal opportunities is provided to employees for future growth and development. With this approach, employers are able to retain employees in workplace and to develop better image of company in market. Main benefit of these provision is that similar platform is provided to all employees due to which they have to operate by considering standard norms. In this manner biasness by considering unfair background will be eliminated from workplace and society. In accordance with the report on discrimination law, affirmative action is a proper way to make suitable policies for employment contract by making reduction in inequalities. In addition to this, it will make increase in standard performance.
Along with the above described benefits there are certain disadvantages of law for organizations and individuals. Sometimes it provides unfavourable attention to employees due to which performance of qualified employee can be appraised in a proper manner. For example higher payment of salary is considered as discrimination in situation where there are both protected characteristics and justifiable reasons. For example an employee because he is qualified but he has similar belief to the employer. By considering this aspect, other employee has right to make claim for the policy for inequalities in payment policies. Such instances will create negative image in the industry of company due to which environment of workplace will be affected in adverse manner (Palmer, 2014). Rivalry firms take advantages of such situation to increase potential loss of business by favouring victims. In accordance with the report of Issues in Employment Law: key issues for the 2010 Parliament, affirmative action laws and policies have a reverse effect to the process of providing indemnification for wrongs in the society, because they only value groups (such as race and gender etc) instead of individuals. Further, in equality law there is provision of socio-economic equality duty in public sector organisations. Due to this provision, organization face issues in providing pay to workers in accordance with their efficiency. In addition to this provision of mandatory retirement is also not justified. It is because, this provision is unsuccessful legal challenge on judicial review as it arises question that whether it complies with legislation of European Union.
By considering above described aspects it can be noticed that there are various advantages of provisions of Equality Act 2010 along with its benefits. These loopholes will be altered by considering proposed changes in order to promote fairness and equality in workplace.
Demonstration Of Protected Characteristics In Employment Law
Equality Act 2010 provides the protection at workplace from discrimination occurred due to unjustified factors. In EU legislation, these factors are termed as protected characteristics. Description of these factors is enumerated below-
Age- In this aspect, individual or group of people are covered of particular age group. At workplace, if employees or potential employees have similar age group then they share protected characteristic of age.
Disability- In the Equality Act 2010, disability can be defined as the mental or physical impairment which has an adverse impact on the ability of individuals who are performing daily activities. People have disability characteristics in past are also covered in this category.
Gender reassignment- This protected characteristic is applied in situation where individuals have proposed or changed their gender (The Workplace and Gender Reassignment, 2014). Such individuals are known as transsexual person and they share the characteristic of gender reassignment.
Marriage and civil partnership- This characteristic is applied on individuals who have common characteristic of being in civil partnership or married. Example of such relationship is the couple of two men or women and marriage of heterosexual women or men. In accordance with the Section 1, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, in this aspect, following individuals are not covered-
- Individuals who are not yet married
- A person who is committed or engaged but not married
- Divorcee person whose civil partnership and marriage has been dissolved
- Pregnancy and maternity- All women are protected during the period of pregnancy and statutory maternity in employment (Whincup, 2008). They are entitled for leave and other reasonable benefits.
Race- In this characteristic, nationality, colour and origin factors are covered. People who share similar racial characteristics belong to a particular racial group (Palmer, 2014).
Religion and belief- This characteristic covers people with philosophical and religious belief. In this Act, following examples of religion are covered-
- Baha’i faith
Individual who had committed a criminal offence will not be covered in this provision (Stone, 2000).
Sex- In accordance with the provision of this Act, sex is defined as being a man or woman.
Sexual orientation- People sharing sexual orientation refers that they are of similar orientation and thus, they share the characteristic of sexual orientation.
At the work place, generally discrimination is occurred due to disability and maternity. In accordance with the Equality Act 2010, employer is responsible to treat disable qualified employee in a fair manner. In addition to this, protection is also provided to disabled person in provisions of indirect discrimination (Grounds of discrimination: definitions and scope of protection, 2014). In accordance with the case of Aylott v Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council  EWCA Civ 910, employer is required to provide fair chance to disable person by making appropriate arrangement. In this case, court held that employer is not entitled to terminate the contract. Similar situation can also be noticed in case of Leonard v Southern Derbyshire Chamber of Commerce  IRLR 19.
At most of the workplaces, employers provide priority to male employees over female employee. Main discrimination arises in the period of pregnancy and maternity leave as female employees are entitled for paid statutory leaves. Such kind of discrimination is not fair in accordance with the provision of Equality Act 2010. Employer is required to provide equal opportunities to male and female employees (Employment contracts, 2014). In addition to this, they should form proper work policies regarding pregnancy and maternity leaves. In situation where act of employers are contradictory to legislation of Equality law, employees are entitled to make the claim for damages to Employment Tribunal.
Present project report depicts that inequality practices in workplaces on the basis of protected organization is not justified. Business organizations are required to consider legislatory norms while developing contractual terms for employment contract. In situation where action of employer will be contradictory to legislatory norms then they will be liable to provide severe damages. Employers are required to promote equality in workplace to comply with these norms. These policies will also be beneficial for organization as they will be able to motivate employees to provide better performance. In addition to this, they can enhance retention ratio to made reduction in cost recruitment and training of new employees.
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- Daniels, K., 2012. Equality Act 2010. Kulwer law international.
- Kenner, J., 2003. EU employment law: From Rome to Amsterdam and beyond. Hart Publishing.
- Larson, L. K., 2013. Employee Health--AIDS Discrimination (Vol. 10). Larson on Employment Discrimination.
- Palmer, C. R., 2014. Common law environmental protection: the future of private nuisance, Part I. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment. 6 (1/2).
- Stone, K. V., 2000. New Psychological Contract: Implications of the Changing Workplace for Labor an Employment Law, The. UCLA L. Rev., 48, 519.
- Wadham, J., and et. al. 2010.Blackstone's guide to the Equality Act 2010. Oxford University Press.
- Whincup, H. M., 2008.contract law and practice. Kulwer law international.