How to comply with UK employment equality regulations when starting a new business?

11 June 2024

To ensure fair and equitable treatment at the workplace, several laws and regulations have been put in place in the UK. These laws aim to eradicate any form of discrimination, promote diversity, and ensure equality among all employees. As an employer, it's essential to understand these employment equality regulations to ensure that your workplace is compliant and fosters a culture of respect and fairness. This article will serve as a guide to understand and comply with the UK's employment equality laws when starting a new business.

Understanding the Equality Act 2010

Before delving into the specifics of compliance, it's essential to comprehend the overarching law that governs employment equality - The Equality Act of 2010. This Act is the main legislation that protects people from discrimination in the workplace and the wider society.

The Equality Act recognises nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. The Act states that it's unlawful to discriminate against employees or job applicants with these protected characteristics. The Equality Act also requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities.

Your understanding of this Act and its provisions will form the basis of your business's equality policies and practices.

Creating an Equality and Diversity Policy

An effective way to ensure that your business complies with the Equality Act is by implementing an Equality and Diversity Policy. This policy should clearly communicate your commitment to promoting diversity and ensuring non-discrimination in your workplace.

The policy should outline the measures that your business will take to avoid discrimination, such as providing equal opportunities for all employees regardless of their protected characteristics. It should also cover the actions that will be taken if the policy is breached. This may include disciplinary action or training for employees who have shown discriminatory behaviour.

Furthermore, the policy should detail the processes involved when employees wish to raise a complaint regarding discrimination. This demonstrates your commitment to tackling discrimination and ensuring that all employees feel heard and valued.

Training and Educating Employees

Once you have established your Equality and Diversity Policy, it's essential to communicate this policy to your employees. This can be achieved through regular training and education sessions.

Employees should be made aware of the policy, its implications and the consequences of any breaches. Training sessions can provide employees with guidance on how to handle situations involving discrimination and how to promote a positive workplace environment. These sessions should also cover unconscious bias training to help employees understand and overcome their own biases.

Remember, training should not be a one-off event but rather a continuous process. Regular training sessions will help in keeping the policy fresh in the minds of employees, ensuring adherence to it.

Monitoring and Reviewing Policies

To ensure that your policies on equality and diversity are effective, it's vital to have a process for monitoring and reviewing them. This will allow you to identify any gaps or areas that may require improvement.

Monitoring can involve regular surveys to gain feedback from employees about their experiences at the workplace. This can provide valuable insights into whether your policies are effective in promoting equality and diversity or if there are issues that need to be addressed.

Reviewing your policies should occur at regular intervals or when significant changes occur in your business or the law. This will ensure that your policies remain up-to-date and continue to support a positive and diverse workplace.

Handling Discrimination Complaints

Despite having robust policies and training in place, there may still be instances where discrimination occurs. It's crucial to have a clear and accessible process for employees to raise discrimination complaints.

When dealing with a complaint, ensure that it is treated seriously and confidentially. The employee making the complaint should be reassured that they will not face any negative repercussions for raising their concern.

Finally, ensure that any necessary action is taken following a complaint. This could involve disciplinary action against the person found guilty of discrimination or providing additional training to employees.

Complying with UK employment equality regulations when starting a new business is not just a legal requirement but also beneficial for creating a productive and positive workplace. It promotes a culture of respect and understanding, which will benefit both your business and your employees.

Implementing Positive Action

The concept of positive action is an essential aspect of UK employment law. It goes beyond non-discrimination and encourages employers to take proactive steps to ensure equality in the workplace. The Equality Act outlines situations where positive action can be taken without breaching the law.

Employers can take positive action where they reasonably think that workers with a particular protected characteristic suffer a disadvantage, have different needs, or are under-represented in certain roles or activities. For example, an employer can offer a job to a female candidate over a male candidate of equal ability, if they can show that women are underrepresented in their workforce.

However, it's crucial to understand that positive action is not the same as positive discrimination, which remains illegal. It means that you cannot treat people with protected characteristics more favourably without a valid reason.

In addition, offering flexible working options can also be a form of positive action to accommodate employees with certain protected characteristics. For example, allowing flexible working hours can be beneficial for employees with caring responsibilities or disabilities.

In order to comply with the positive action provisions in the Equality Act, it's recommended to seek advice prior to taking any steps. This will ensure that your actions are lawful and genuinely contribute to promoting equality diversity in your new business.

Adhering to Public Sector Equality Duty

If your business is part of the public sector, you are required to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) as part of the Equality Act. This means that public bodies must consider how their decisions and policies affect people with different protected characteristics.

The PSED is comprised of a general equality duty, which applies to all public bodies, and specific duties, which vary depending on the public body and its jurisdiction. The general duty requires public bodies to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different groups.

To comply with the PSED, it's helpful to develop an action plan that sets out the steps your business will take to meet the duty. You should also publish information annually about the progress you're making in achieving your equality objectives. This demonstrates your commitment to equality and provides transparency to your employees and the wider public.


In conclusion, complying with UK employment equality regulations when starting a new business requires a comprehensive understanding of the Equality Act 2010 and its various aspects including protected characteristics, positive action, and public sector equality duty. Employers need to create and implement clear policies and procedures around equality and diversity, provide regular training, and establish procedures to handle discrimination complaints.

Monitoring and reviewing these policies frequently is key to ensuring that they remain effective. Employers should also take advantage of the opportunity to implement positive actions to promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace.

While the process might appear daunting, the benefits are immense. A diverse and inclusive workplace not only fosters a positive work environment but also leads to better decision making, increased creativity and innovation, and improved business performance.

Remember, a commitment to equality and diversity is not just about meeting a legal duty; it is about valuing people and respecting their employment rights, and fostering a culture where everyone can thrive. It is therefore, an investment in the future success of your new business.