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The Workplace Discrimination Act

By Alexis Mead

The fight against workplace discrimination took a major step forward in 2010 when all the different laws were brought together into one clear act of legislation known as the Equality Act.

The act applies to all employees, job applicants, trainees, contract workers, office holders (including company directors and partners), those who are on secondment and the self-employed. It covers all areas of employment including recruitment, selection and promotion, the provision of training, the provision of benefits, retirement and occupational pensions. (Source: Guardian Careers).

Discrimination can be ‘direct’, where a person is treated unequally on the grounds of, for example, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.  It can also be known as ‘indirect’ where the discrimination isn’t obvious, for example if a store forbade employees from wearing hats, followers of religions who must keep their heads covered would be discriminated against.

This is of course a very brief overview of the Act and all details may be found here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/introduction

The Act has clarified many issues and offered protection to groups who may have been discriminated against in the past.  However for those who feel that they have a case for discrimination, there are clear guidelines to help resolve the issue.

In an ideal world this would never be necessary, however should it become so it’s important to realise that strict time limits apply.  The employee must follow the statutory grievance procedure and has to prove that discrimination has occurred.

From an employer’s point of view the liability for discrimination usually lies with them and/or any employee who is found to have discriminated against a fellow worker.  An employer will also be liable for the acts of third parties (such as suppliers) in some circumstances and also if they fail to protect their employees after the discrimination becomes known.

Respect in the workplace is key to  relationship success; it can be demonstrated in so many ways and is a two-way process; from the employers’ side when policies and practices are implemented fairly and consistently, leading employees to feel that they are all treated fairly and equally.

Employees can do a great deal in contributing to a working environment where everyone feels that they are treated with courtesy and respect.

Such reciprocal behaviours helps everyone who works side by side to grow and flourish and American research has shown that employees work harder for an employer who treats them with fairness and respect.

Here at AMR respect is at the centre of everything we do; it underpins our methodology and put in its most simple terms we treat everyone as we would like to be treated ourselves.

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