The Employment Act 2010 now encapsulates all previous legislation under one statute.

This has been an important change for LGB&T people who have previously needed to trawl through various regulations and amendments in order to discover their rights.

Under this Act the employer cannot, on grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation:

  • refuse to employ someone or dismiss them.
  • refuse access to training or promotion.
  • deny lesbian, gay and bisexual workers, benefits, facilities or services available to heterosexual workers such as, accommodation, childcare, travel concessions, social events etc.
  • give an unfair reference if a person leaves
  • victimise someone because they made a complaint of discrimination or supported someone else’s complaint.

Employment Equalities (Sexual Orientation) Regulations

In addition to this, employers will no longer be allowed to ask job applicants to fill in a health care questionnaire before offering them employment. In the past, employers have been able to seek information on applicants’ health problems, regardless of any relevance to the job.

This is significant to LGB people as it will remove the hindrance to those living with HIV entering the workplace.

However you will probably find that your employer monitors sexual orientation along with other protected characteristics at recruitment and equalities monitoring exercises.

Collecting this data will help them understand their workforce, ensure LGB employees needs are being met, and tackle potential discrimination and harassment.

If you want to know how they will use this data or what their confidentiality policy is, just ask.

What about religious exemptions?

The position under The Equality Act has not changed for religious organisations seeking to recruit staff.

Where they can show that the nature of the position advertised requires that the person be of the religion or belief of the organisation, they can exclude applicants who are not (but they cannot exclude candidates just because they are LGB).

But such organisations cannot do this if the nature of the work does not have religious aspects – for example, secretaries or cleaners.

August 2011