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What are Your Employment Rights?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Sep 2015 | comments*Discuss
Employment employee worker workers

A variety of legislation protects the employment rights of all workers in the United Kingdom. Below you will find information on the main legislation protecting employees against discrimination based on age, ability, race, religion and sex.


Age discrimination is a relatively new concept but there is legislation that protects workers from unfair treatment due to their age. The Employment Equality Act (Age) Regulations 2006 is the main piece of legislation fighting ageism in employment in the United Kingdom. This Act protects people aged 50 and over from being discriminated against in the hiring of new workers, how workers are treated in the workplace, the firing, of workers, redundancies and retirement. Employment equality for younger workers is dealt with in other legislation.


Discrimination against individuals with disabilities is also illegal in the United Kingdom. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995 is the main piece of legislation that deals with this topic. This Act outlaws discrimination based on disability in the areas of employment, education, access to goods, facilities and services and in relation to land and property. This Act also requires public bodies to promote equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of ability, and it addresses the issue of equal access to public transportation by setting minimum standards for ease of use of all passengers. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 amends and extends the DDA, and the Mental Health Act of 1983 protects the rights of individuals with learning disabilities and/or mental health concerns.


The Race Relations Act 1976 and all of its amendments and extensions protect individuals from being discriminated against in employment on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, religious beliefs or ethnicity. This Act does not distinguish between whether racist practices were done on purpose, it is concerned only with whether or not racial discrimination occurred. Four main types of discrimination are recognised in relation to employment. Direct discrimination is deliberate and obvious. Indirect discrimination occurs when practices of policies disadvantage one or more racial groups. Harassment occurs when the workplace is allowed to become a hostile environment. Finally, victimisation occurs when someone has complained about discrimination and is then treated less fairly than others.


The Race Relations Act 1976 is also the main piece of legislation protecting the religious rights of all employees in the United Kingdom. In addition to this Act, the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 forbids discrimination in employment or vocational training due to religion or belief. Though there is no particular list of religions or beliefs that are included in UK legislation, most major world religions and minority belief systems are recognised for the purposes of these documents. Questions about what constitutes a religion or belief are settled by Employment Tribunal.


A variety of laws work to provide equal rights to males and females in the United Kingdom. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment, vocational training, education, the provision and sale of goods, facilities and services, premises and the exercise of public functions due to their sex/gender. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 mandates equal pay for equal work regardless of an individual's sex/gender. The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 also protect the rights of individuals who intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment. These Regulations pertain to pay and treatment in employment, self-employment and vocational training.

The rights of all workers are protected under UK legislation in relation to discrimination based on age, ability, race, religion and sex. For further information on any of the above topics, visit a professional solicitor or visit a Citizens Advice Bureau.

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@Jamesmegus - your company can if the contract says it can. The yard operatives may be employed via a different company, or on a different contract.
Ed - 25-Sep-15 @ 12:46 PM
My company give private health care to every employee within the group approx 180 however one group of Yard Operatives approx 40 of them are excluded cause they work in the yard. Can Peri Ltd dothis?
jamesmegus - 24-Sep-15 @ 3:10 PM
I am fortunate to be frequently mistaken for a person considerably younger than I am so have witnessed even more age discrimination - particularly, but by no means exclusively, in the public sector - than if they had realised that I was older. Many people I know personally have been in a group of 50+ year old healthy committedworkers who have been made redundant after 'some reorganisation' prior to then recruitingless experienced workers 'on contract'. A significant number of commercial sector 'victims' we on final salary schemes so will then have little choice but to rely on state benefits to an extent not previously envisaged. But as usual our policy makers are ignorant of the way the values behind these laws are being flouted every day.
Lonelyworker - 22-Apr-15 @ 12:50 PM
@Burnie1980 - good that you have decided to get this investigated as this does sound unfair.
Kathy - 17-Mar-15 @ 10:31 AM
My fiancée works at a restaurant. She has done for 5 years and has progressed from waitress to Duty Manager. A promotion opportunity arose but she was not informed or interviewed whereas another colleague was and then given the job. The other colleague was male, less experienced and doesn't have any dependants. My fiancée has asked for an investigation.
Burnie1980 - 13-Mar-15 @ 9:30 PM
Why are some sites allowed to advertise jobs, but you can only view paid jobs if you pay a membership? Is this not discrimination against people who can not afford to pay these membership fees? So only people with money can apply.
wills - 10-Jun-14 @ 4:01 PM
I am applying for a job and they are asking for a medical history including any medication i am taking, have i ever suffered from depression? Also asking to access my medical records via my gp....is this allowed??
cheryl1976 - 22-Mar-14 @ 1:28 PM
I applied for an internal post but was not informed of interview. The application was received and confirmed. Another candidate was appointed and my emails regarding feedback on application remain unanswered
winner - 12-Apr-13 @ 9:57 AM
I'm writing on behalf of my auntie she had a job interveiw where I used to work she was basically told by the duty manger she wasn't going to get the job because me and my old manger had abit of an argument before I left and it left abit of an atmosphere and because she was my auntie the manager didn't process her application to head office, however the manager gave her an interveiw which was weird. Anyway the interveiw went ahead in the store room on a cardboard box and the manager left halfway through to have a ciggerette and basically she didn't take my auntie seriously at all. All the other candidates were interviewed correctly so I can't help but think she was discriminated against. Two weeks went by without hearing off the manger only to hear they have employed somebody else no phone call was made to my auntie to say she was unsuccessfull and for the two weeks she was waiting she was constantly being told they were reviewing the job and would get back too her what rights will she have and how can we go about taking this further ?
Deebee - 6-Dec-12 @ 9:43 PM
Could you tell why a majority of Asian shops in the high street Such as news agents supermarkets off liciences and post offices Won't employ white people ? I have done my research And about 99% only employ Asians ?.isnt this descrimination or a conspiracy why hasn't the equal opportunity committee Stepped in and said hold on this isn't fair you need to Employ some white people ?.can we have an answer please ?
Mikeb - 2-Dec-12 @ 12:35 PM
Can an Islamic based school insist on female employees wearing a head covering? The school will be enrolling half non muslim pupils and non muslim staff as well as muslim staff.
Pixie Hyde - 29-Aug-12 @ 10:22 AM
Racism at work is disgraceful.
B.Ellender - 14-Sep-11 @ 11:29 AM
My grandaughter is working in a retaurant,it is her first job,she is 18,she does long hours, is reliable,and enjoys the job,but she is being bullied by the chef at work, and so have other girls,who have left because of it,but the remaining girls will not say anything in case they lose the job,he is saying sexual remarks to her, and generally being nasty,she goes home crying everynight,and dreads going in, but can,t pack up the job, as she needs the money,her mother does not live in uk, so it is very difficult for her,any advise please.
shelagh - 6-Jul-11 @ 11:27 AM
I think racism still comes into play when getting a job, some places will not employ black or asian individuals. Whereas some will not employ whites in fear of being named a racist. I also agree with the above comment.
I.Mustaphasheet - 10-May-11 @ 1:42 PM
There appears to be equal opportunities in the workplace for individuals with a disability however no equal opportunities in the workplace for cares of disabled individuals who want to work however are limited in hours due to their care role commitments.
kaz - 23-Mar-11 @ 6:44 PM
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