Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities

In the Equality Act 2010, nine characteristics were identified as ‘protected characteristics’. These are the characteristics where evidence shows there is still significant discrimination in employment, provision of goods and services and access to services such as education and health. The protected characteristics are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Applying for a Job – what to know

This is not an exhaustive guide; it’s intended to give you a quick overview.  If you are unsure you can ask us or Citizens Advice.

In the recruitment process, an employer must not do something which has (or would have) a worse impact on you and on other people who share a particular protected characteristic than on people who do not have that characteristic.

If you are a disabled person, an employer must not treat you unfavourably

because of something connected to your disability where they cannot show that what they are doing is objectively justified. This only applies if an employer

knows or could reasonably have been expected to know that you are a disabled person.

An employer must not treat you worse than another job applicant because they incorrectly think you have a protected characteristic.

If you ask for information about the job and the application form (if there is one) in an alternative format which you require because you are a disabled person then an employer must provide this, so long as it is a reasonable adjustment – and it is likely to be.


If you need reasonable adjustments to participate in any interview or assessment process, then an employer must make them.


When an employer assesses your suitability for the job, they must take account of any reasonable adjustments which are needed to enable you to do the job.  If, after taking reasonable adjustments into account, you would not be the best person for the job, an employer does not have to offer it to you.  Not offering you the job because you require adjustments would be unlawful discrimination, if those adjustments are reasonable for the employer to make.

Except in very restricted circumstances or for very restricted purposes, employers are not allowed to ask any job applicant about their health or any disability until the

person has been:

  • offered a job either outright or on a conditional basis, or
  • included in a group of successful candidates to be offered a job when a position becomes available


This includes asking such a question as part of the application process or during an interview. It also includes sending you a questionnaire about your health for you to fill in before you have been offered a job. Questions relating to previous sickness absence are questions that relate to health or disability.  This applies whether or not you are a disabled person.