A description of UK legislation regarding equality and inequality in the workplace and everyday life. 

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)