The Equality Act outlaws discrimination because of:
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Sexual orientation
- Religion or belief
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage or civil partnership
What does this mean in reality? If we mentioned a disability, then the interviewer is only allowed to ask if it would affect our ability to do the job. They are not allowed to ask you how many sick days you had in the last year – that would be unlawful. If we mention childcare arrangements when arranging the interview time, the employer must not ask if we have childcare that covers the job’s hours. We might have mentioned being recently married but they may not ask if we are planning to add to our family. Turning down a woman applicant because the employer thought she might need time off to look after her children or be planning another baby would be unlawful discrimination.
The same applies to all forms of discrimination in the Equality Act: The employer can ask questions to assess our ability to do a job, but they must not ask for information that is not relevant to the job to discriminate against us.