The conciliation service Acas has published a new guide to help employers, employees and trade union reps get to grips with the law around equality and to be aware of any behaviour that could be considered to be sex discrimination.

The guidance includes best practice advice on how to deal with six common workplace areas where sex discrimination can occur. Highlights include:

  • Recruitment – to avoid discriminatory stereotyping, Acas advises employers to be careful when writing an advertisement and to avoid advertising in just one outlet or type of media; to ensure the application form only asks for information relevant to the job; not to ask candidates personal questions at interview; and to consider positive action if men or women are under-represented in the organisation
  • Pay, terms and conditions of employment – employers must ensure there are no terms and conditions that disadvantage or exclude people because of their sex, perceived sex or association with someone of a particular sex. This could include pay, a bonus scheme or being allowed to work flexibly
  • Promotion opportunities – Acas reminds employers that it would be discriminatory to only provide details of a job to people of one sex except where an occupational requirement could be justified; discourage someone from applying because of their sex; not promote someone because they might not fit in; decide not to promote someone because they previously made a complaint; have an unwritten rule that candidates above a certain level have to work full time
  • Training opportunities – it would be discriminatory to withhold training from an employee because of their sex, perceived sex or association with someone of a particular sex; withhold training from staff who work part-time or have a flexible arrangement
  • Dismissals – it is against the law for employers to dismiss an employee because of their actual or perceived sex or the sex of someone they are associated with
  • Redundancies – Employees must not be discriminated against in a redundancy process because of their sex. For instance, women of child-bearing age or employees who have children or other caring responsibilities outside work
    Iain Birrell of Thompsons Solicitors commented “It is possible to discriminate against someone in ways which are not necessarily readily obvious, and this guide is a useful document to help avoid that outcome. It has a practical and accessible approach which goes beyond this summary can set out.”

To read the guidance in full, go to: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/d/2/Sex-discrimination-key-points-for-the-workplace.pdf