Positive discrimination

Positive discrimination is generally unlawful in the UK. For example, an employer recruiting a person because he or she has a relevant protected characteristic rather than because he or she is the best candidate would be committing discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. It is also unlawful to set quotas to recruit or promote a specific number or proportion of people with a particular protected characteristic.

There are limited circumstances in which it is lawful to require a job applicant or worker to have a particular protected characteristic, for example where an occupational requirement applies. Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance gives the example of a women’s refuge requiring all members of staff to be women.

Positive discrimination, should be distinguished from positive action, which is lawful.


Is there a case for positive discrimination?

17 Jan 2006

Positive discrimination is illegal. But could it make our workforces more representative of society? Michael Millar investigates.

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L’Oreal urges caution in use of positive discrimination

18 Jan 2005

L'Oreal would only set quotas if it felt there was a clear business case

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NHS adopts positive discrimination to end white bias at the top

17 Mar 2004

The
NHS is planning to fast-track black and Asian managers into senior positions to
counter a white bias at the...

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Positive discrimination can be wrong under DDA

12 Feb 2002

A recent ruling by the EAT shows employers need not treat disabled employees more favourably than non-disabled staff

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Positive discrimination

9 Jan 2001

UK law is generally hostile towards positive discrimination practices. There is little prospect of any positive discrimination measures being made...

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