Asking employers questions around discrimination

Discrimination questionnaires were abolished as of April 2014

However in the absence of a formal process, a member can still ask the employer questions in relation to possible discrimination.

ACAS acknowledge this can be a helpful process for both employees and employers. As a result they have produced some guidance on this.

Employers do not have to respond but a tribunal (sheriff court in Scotland) may look at them and see whether this has a bearing on the claim. The tribunal can also order the employer to provide relevant information.

Questions you may need to ask

Reps should discuss the case with the member and consider the following:

  • Which protected characteristic is the member covered by in the Equality Act?
  • How have they been treated?
  • Why was the treatment discriminatory?
  • Be careful about how you word the questions: put yourself in the position of the employer – does the way the question is asked allow you to give a response without giving away information?
  • If so, rephrase the question, or ask supplementary questions. You may also want to ask for supporting documentation.
  • You may want to ask for information about how others in similar circumstances have been treated, to establish comparators for your case.
  • It can be helpful to include general questions about the workplace and organisation – i.e. the training in equality that is provided, whether key decision makers had been trained, etc.
  • In cases where reasonable adjustments have not been made, you might want to ask for a list of the adjustments considered and the reasons why each was rejected.

Reps will need to consider employment tribunal time limits and the Early Conciliation service provided by ACAS.

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