Race discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of race, colour, and nationality, ethnic or national origin. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees because of these characteristics.
Race discrimination covers four areas:
- direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived race, or because of the race of someone with whom they associate
- indirect discrimination: can occur where there is a policy, practice or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular race. An example could be a requirement for all job applicants to have GCSE Maths and English: people educated in countries which don't have GCSEs would be discriminated against if equivalent qualifications were not accepted.
- harassment: when unwanted conduct related to race has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual
- victimisation: unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about racial discrimination.
In very limited circumstances, there are some jobs which can require that the job-holder is of a particular racial group. This is known as an 'occupational requirement'. One example is where the job-holder provides personal welfare services to a limited number of people and those services can most effectively be provided by a person of a particular racial group because of cultural needs and sensitivities.
It is unlawful to discriminate against a job-seeker, worker or trainee on grounds of race, colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origins. Employers should ensure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent discrimination in:
- recruitment and selection
- determining pay
- training and development
- selection for promotion
- discipline and grievances
- countering bullying and harassment
Questions and answers
What can I do if I think I've been discriminated against?
If you feel you've been discriminated against, you'll be able to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal. However, it's best to talk to your employer first to try to sort out the matter informally, in order to minimise the negative effects on all parties involved.
Through the Acas Helpline (08457 47 47 47) you can get advice on specific problems, and explore alternatives to an Employment Tribunal claim, such as mediation or Pre-Claim Conciliation, where appropriate
What is positive action?
Positive action is where an employer can provide support, training or encourage people from a particular racial group.
An employer must ensure any positive action taken is a proportionate way of tackling the under representation of a particular racial group, without discriminating against people outside of that group.
Positive action is only allowed where a particular racial group:
- suffers a disadvantage
- is disproportionately under represented
- has needs that are different from the needs of other racial groups in the workforce
Do these regulations cover all workers?
Yes, the regulations apply to all workers, including office holders, police, barristers and partners in a business. They also cover related areas such as membership of trade organisations, the award of qualifications, the services of careers guidance organisations, employment agencies and vocational training providers, including further and higher education institutions.
Equality and diversity - Acas business solutions
We can visit your organisation to help you understand what needs to be done to address a range of issues related to equality and diversity and then work with you to develop practical solutions. For example we can help you develop dignity at work or bullying and harassment policies and procedures. Find out more.
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Did you know?
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