Occupational requirements

It is not discrimination for an employer to refuse to employ someone who has a protected characteristic if an Occupational Requirement (OR) applies. This means an employer simply has to show that the requirement is crucial to the post and that it is a proportionate means of reaching a legitimate aim. It is important that the employer identifies the OR before advertising the post, an example might be a same sex lavatory attendant (the OR being decency and privacy).

Top tips: staying compliant

• have clear policies and procedures in place and use them

• make it clear to your employees that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated (as the employer, you’re liable for your employees’ actions so ignoring them doesn’t make sense)

• remember that different people have different levels of sensitivity – what is good office banter for one might be deeply hurtful to someone else and they have the right to complain even if the person it is directed against doesn’t mind

• deal with problems quickly, otherwise they will escalate

• develop the kind of culture where people are not afraid to raise issues and where people can talk honestly

• make sure there is someone other than their line manager that people can approach and make sure this is well publicised

• if you have the resources, then appoint diversity champions who can be contact points for people.