Positive Action - The Law
The 2010 Equality Act legally protects people from discrimination (both direct and indirect) in the workplace and in wider society.
What you can do – Positive action
Positive action means taking steps to help or encourage certain groups of people with different needs, or who are disadvantaged in some way, to access work or training.
Positive action is lawful under the Equality Act. For example, an employer could:
- hold open days for girls or women
- design advertisements encouraging women to apply
- produce leaflets or posters aimed at women and girls
- run outreach at girls’ schools or women’s organisations.
This wouldn’t be unlawful discrimination under the Act.
You can take positive action to help women and other under-represented groups in STEM to apply because their participation in employment or training is particularly low.
What you cannot do – Positive discrimination
In recruitment, positive discrimination would be where an employer recruits someone because they have a protected characteristic rather than being the best candidate for the role. For example, you cannot employ girls or women onto an apprenticeship programme over more qualified male candidates.
Your legal obligations
Make sure that you and your training provider is aware of your legal obligations to your apprentices under UK equality legislation.
Organisations in the public sector or delivering a contract for the public sector have additional duties under the Public Sector Equality duty. Here is further information on The Public Sector Equality Duty.
The Act covers 3 main areas:
1. To eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
2. To advance equality of opportunity (including removing or minimising disadvantages, taking steps to meet different needs and encouraging disproportionately low participation).
3. To foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
To show you have taken reasonable steps to meet these requirements in your workplace or training environment, as a minimum we recommend:
- Mandatory equality, diversity and inclusion awareness training for all staff and learners. WISE can help with this.
- Writing an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy and communicating it to all employees. An example of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy can be found here.
- Develop an action plan for promotion diversity and inclusion throughout your organisation. See the ICE example for guidance.
For more guidance on the Equality Act, the Public Sector Equality Duty and specific requirements related to these such as Equal pay or adjusting for disabled people in the workplace, please see the Equality and Human Rights Commission here and their advice pages here.