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Equality in Law

UK law regarding equality, diversity and inclusion

Note that these laws extend far beyond work. They are presented here in a work or organisational context but the laws apply anywhere.


Types of Discrimination

It is against the law to discriminate against any person due to his/her:

  • Age (also referred to as 'ageism')
  • Gender/sexuality/sexual orientation (for example a male, female or transexual, or transitioning)
  • Marital status (married, single or in a civil partnership)
  • Pregnancy (or having/expecting/wanting a child)
  • Disability (physical or mental)
  • Race (colour [US color], nationality, ethnicity, national origin)
  • Religion (belief, atheism [lack of religion/belief], spiritual preferences)

These aspects of human diversity are called (in UK law) 'protected characteristics'.

Equality law protects people from discrimination against such characteristics when/in/seeking:

  • Work/employment
  • Education
  • As a consumer
  • Member/guest of private club/association
  • Using public services
  • Buying/renting property
  • With/helping someone of protected characteristic (for example, family member/friend, or you've complained about discrimination, or supported another person's claim - this is called in law 'positive action', which is judged to be legal where a person of a protected characteristic has particular needs, is disadvantaged and under-represented)