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Acas publishes new advice to help employers brush up on equality and diversity in the workplace

Tuesday 04 August 2015

Workplace expert, Acas, has launched a new series of equality guides today to help employers and managers identify, tackle and prevent discrimination in the workplace.

Over the past year, the Acas helpline has dealt with nearly 50,000 calls on discrimination and diversity issues in the workplace. To help employers and managers get to grips with the law on equality, Acas has published three new free guides that offer a wide range of practical advice in the workplace:

  • Equality and discrimination: understand the basics;
  • Prevent discrimination: support equality; and
  • Discrimination: what to do if it happens.

Acas Head of Equality, Steve Williams, said:

"We have published these new free guides to help employers understand the basics around equality and discrimination as falling on the wrong side of the law can result in a costly employment tribunal.

"Research shows that employers with a diverse workforce can reap many business benefits as they can tap into the knowledge and skills of staff from a wide range of backgrounds.

"Our new guidance suite covers the different types of discrimination, situations where discrimination is lawful as well as practical steps on how to prevent discrimination and dealing with it if it happens."

Business Minister Nick Boles said:

"Employers benefit greatly from building diverse workforces. The new equality and discrimination guides from Acas are a positive step in helping employers to understand the law and in preventing hardworking people facing workplace discrimination."

The new Acas guides cover the nine areas in law that are known as 'protected characteristics':

  • Age;
  • Sex (gender);
  • Race;
  • Religion or belief;
  • Disability;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender reassignment;
  • Marriage and civil partnership; and
  • Pregnancy and maternity.

Discrimination claims can be made based on any of the above characteristics.

Steve Williams added:

"Last month, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a new research report which showed that many new mothers experienced pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace, which is a protected characteristic according to the Equality Act 2010.

"Our guides give a basic understanding of the law and the different characteristics to help employers spot the warning signs and put measures in place to help to prevent it from happening in the first place."

View Acas' first three equality guides.

Notes to editors

  1. The Acas Helpline answered 903,679 calls in 2014/15 and 5.5% of these calls included diversity and discrimination issues. In 2013/14, Acas Helpline answered 895,748 calls and 4.7% of these calls included issues around diversity and discrimination. A breakdown of Acas Helpline calls by topic is available on page 42 of our 2014/15 Acas Annual Report
  2. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills report on the Business Case for Equality and Diversity is available at: Business Case for Equality and Diversity
  3. The Equality and Human Rights (EHRC) press notice on the research  'Pregnancy and Maternity-Related Discrimination and Disadvantage First findings: Surveys of Employers and Mothers' is available at:
  4. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law. For more information, check out the Acas website
  5. For media enquiries please contact Shumon Ali-Rahman, Senior Media Manager on 0207 210 3688 or For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.