What is a Protected Characteristic?

The law does not allow an employer (or their staff) to treat someone less favourably because of a ‘protected characteristic‘.

There are 9 protected characteristics. These are set out in the Equality Act 2010.

1.  Age

This refers to a person belonging to a particular  age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18 – 30 year olds, over 65 etc).

2. Disability

A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

3.  Gender reassignment

The process of transitioning from one gender to another.

4. Marriage and civil partnership

Marriage is defined as a ‘union between a man and a woman’. Same-sex couples can have their relationships legally recognised as ‘civil partnerships’.

5. Pregnancy and maternity

This covers the full term of pregnancy, as well as the period after the birth.

6. Race

This means a group of people defined by their race, colour,  nationality, ethnic or national origins.

7. Religion and belief

Religion has the meaning usually given to it. Belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (e.g. atheism)

8.         Sex

Simply put, whether an employee is a man or a woman.

9.         Sexual orientation

Whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes

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