Law guide: Employment

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Equal opportunity

Equal opportunity


Employers should be committed to equal opportunity for their employees. Discrimination is unlawful and also expensive. Employment tribunals have no limit on how much they can award to an employee who has brought a complaint for discrimination. Any claim for equal pay for equal value work can be backdated.

Employer's responsibilities

Employers are responsible for the actions of their employees. Therefore clear policies are required to be implemented. These may include the following:

  • Not to discriminate unfairly against any person in respect of recruitment, promotion, development or training on the grounds of age, race, sex, marital or civil partner status, disability (physical or mental), religious belief or political opinion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, trade union membership or non-membership or status as a fixed-term or part-time worker
  • Have policies and procedures to promote equality within the organisation
  • Have an established disciplinary and grievance procedure to deal with the matters on a fair and consistent basis
  • Have policies to combat harassment and victimisation
  • Provide advice and set up guidelines for equal policy implementation Training, promotion and selection must be made on a fair and equal basis based on merit
  • Make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees according to their needs

Failure to adhere to the equal opportunity policy by the employees or the directors should be treated as misconduct that may lead to a disciplinary action.

You can get more information from the Labour Relations Agency (LRA), which offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues. You can call the LRA helpline. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland can help with advice regarding discrimination and equal opportunities.

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