Disability Discrimination


The 2010 Equality Act in Great Britain and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 protect the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace. As well as offering support for individual members who have disabilities, UNISON works to change attitudes in society so that people with disabilities are better able to play an equal part in life.

In Great Britain the 2010 Equality Act protects the rights of disabled people in the workplace. The law also provides some protection to people associated with disabled people, such as carers. The law covers anyone with a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

It also includes those who have been disabled in the past.

People with cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis are automatically regarded as disabled for the purposes of both the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act. A severe disfigurement may also amount to a disability.

As well as disability discrimination, the 2010 Act protects people from other forms of discrimination, including:

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

Practices which discriminate against those with particular disabilities are also prohibited unless they can be similarly justified. This is known as indirect disability discrimination.

In the workplace, this means treating people equally in all aspects of their work, including:

  • when they apply for a job;
  • terms and conditions;
  • part-time and flexible working arrangements;
  • pay and benefits;
  • training, development, promotion and appraisals
  • dismissal, redundancy and retirement.