This section gives you some information about the Equality Act. It explains some of your duties as an employer or prospective employer.
The Equality Act clarifies what you need to do to make your workplace and services fair and comply with the law. The Act puts a duty on you as an employer to make reasonable adjustments for your staff to help them overcome any disadvantage resulting from their disability.
The Equality Act aims to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.
It does this in relation to what are called “protected characteristics”. Disability is one of the protected characteristics. Most blind and partially sighted people are likely to be considered “disabled” within the meaning of the Act.
The Act applies to employers of any size, and covers temporary, part time and permanent employees, and contract workers. It also covers applicants and potential applicants for employment. Volunteers are generally not covered by the Act.
The law states that an employer must not discriminate in the recruitment process – which includes advertising, the application process, shortlisting and interview. This might include:
producing application forms in accessible formats (such as large print)
allowing the candidate more time for interview tests and the use of their adjustments, if permitted
be aware of questions you cannot ask the candidate in interview
you might be breaking the law if any discrimination happens during the recruitment process, even if you use a recruitment agency
if a disabled and a non-disabled candidate both meet the job requirements, you can treat the disabled person more favourably
you must not state or imply in a job advert that you’ll discriminate against anyone
Our website has lots more information about recruitment, application forms and interviews.
The law states that employers are required to make "reasonable adjustments" (changes) to the workplace. Many adjustments can reasonably be made at minimal cost and involve little inconvenience. Assistance with funding more costly adjustments is available by assessment through the government’s Access to Work scheme.
Some examples of reasonable adjustment include:
providing specialist equipment (such as a video magnifier)
providing specialist software (such as screen magnification or a screen reader)
altering lighting levels around an employee’s workstation
support with some duties
funding transport costs to and from work
providing information in an accessible format.
The law states that it is unfair to dismiss someone on the grounds of disability, and that an employer must not discriminate:
in the terms of the employment (such as salary)
by not offering access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training or receiving any other benefit.
by not following fair dismissal criteria & process
For more information on any of the above please contact our Helpline on 0303 123 9999.
There are also a number of specialist organisations that can help you understand or resolve more complex queries.
ACAS aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. Visit the ACAS website for more in-depth information about the Equality Act, reasonable adjustments and improving inclusion in the workplace.
The EHRC provides comprehensive information on the Equality Act, including guidance for employers about how to comply with equality law and implement good practice in all aspects of employment including recruitment, pay, working hours, managing staff and developing policies.