Essential points

  • The main legislation governing sex discrimination in the UK is the Equality Act 2010 (note that Northern Ireland has its own equality laws).
  • Sex discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably (or in the case of maternity leave and pregnancy, unfavourably) and disadvantaged for reasons related to their sex/maternity/pregnancy. 
  • The protected characteristics (set out in the Equality Act 2010) relevant to gender and sexuality in a broad sense include:
      • sex
      • sexual orientation
      • gender reassignment
      • marriage and civil partnership
      • pregnancy and maternity.

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While every care has been taken in compiling this content, the CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. 

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