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Your small business and discrimination in the workplace

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Running a small business is not an easy task. There’s so much that you need to be mindful of. One thing it would help to familiarise yourself with is discrimination law. If you aren’t familiar with this law and you have employees, you could end up in a lot of trouble one day without even realising it.

The importance of understanding discrimination law

Small companies often think that discrimination is something larger companies mainly have to worry about. However, it isn’t just the larger companies who can get into trouble if discrimination in the workplace arises.

It’s the Equality Act 2010 that you need to study up on. Within this Act it highlights nine different characteristics that are each protected by unlawful discrimination. These characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy/maternity

In order to ensure that you protect your employees and your business, it’s vital to create an equal opportunities policy. Right from the recruitment process to dress code and redundancies; there are a number of policies you need to adopt to prevent discrimination in the workplace.

Recruiting new staff

discriminationThe recruitment process is the one which can get you into the most trouble if you don’t give everyone an equal chance. You need to ensure that the recruitment process is objective and systematic. You are not able to rule out a particular group of people, or make it more difficult for them to apply. Some wording used in job advertisements can be seen to be discriminatory such as ‘energetic’. You may feel that this is an innocent enough term. However, it could be seen to be discriminatory towards disabled people or older people.

Dealing with staff illness

You need to keep in mind that some staff may need to take more sick days than others because of a disability. Unless you try to make adjustments to the workplace to accommodate these changes, you could be accused of discrimination. You need to prove that as a company you did everything to help the person complete their work. This can include flexible hours where they can work from home sometimes.

Making redundancies

This is one area you really need to be careful with. A very common method used when making people redundant is ‘last in, first out’. While this policy may seem fair, it can actually leave you wide open for an age discrimination case. This is because younger employees are typically the last in. If you intend to use absence records to back up your choices, you also need to be careful that these don’t include staff with disabilities or those who were on maternity leave.

These are just three areas of your business that discrimination problems can occur. Take a look at the Equality Act 2010. Sit down with your HR team and create a suitable equal opportunities policy. You need to ensure your employees also treat others fairly. Therefore the policy should include consequences for those who are found guilty of discriminating against their fellow employees.

 

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2 Responses to “Your small business and discrimination in the workplace”

  1. Anonymouse

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    • theworkingparent

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About Jemma Porter

About Jemma Porter

Jemma Porter is an experienced content creator who has written for a number of online publications. A self-confessed penny pincher; she's often found seeking out the best personal finance deals.

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