UNISON campaigns and supports members to make sure everyone is treated fairly and equally at work.
Around 20% of the workforce is disabled and disabled people are often discriminated against at work. UNISON works to change attitudes in society so that people with disabilities are better able to play an equal part in life and at work.
No-one – young or old – should be treated differently at work because of their age. UNISON works to reduce age discrimination in the workplace by changing attitudes and negotiating with employers.
People of every race are entitled to equal rights at work. This section explains how to deal with race discrimination in the workplace and what to do if you are discriminated against.
Sex discrimination may occur when men or women receive unequal pay or benefits, or when one group receives better jobs, better promotion prospects or treatment. UNISON campaigns for fairer pay and conditions for all workers, regardless of their gender.
Religious discrimination in the workplace occurs when a person is treated less favourably than others because of their religion or belief. The Equality Act offers legal protection against religious discrimination. In Northern Ireland this is addressed by Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998 (FETO”).
It is unlawful to treat a person unfavourably at work because of sexual orientation. The most common form of sexual orientation discrimination is harassment, such as prejudiced comments or abuse, exclusion or over-supervision. UNISON works to end discrimination and promote equality for all.
Equality duties deal with eight areas: gender; pregnancy and maternity; disability; race; sexual orientation; gender reassignment; age; religion or belief.
Transgender people can experience discrimination at work because of their gender history or gender expression. UNISON works to end discrimination and promote equality for all.
Many members may face bullying and harassment at work, but everyone is entitled to work in a safe environment, free from intimidation or abuse. Your UNISON rep can help you stop bullying and create a safer workplace.
A co-worker makes me feel uncomfortable with the things he says about my appearance and questions about my personal life. What should I do?
It is considered harassment if your manager or co-workers engage in unwanted behaviour related to your gender or behaviour of a sexual nature which violates your dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere.
You are protected from such harassment under the Equality Act 2010 (the SDO in Northern Ireland).
You should speak to your UNISON rep immediately, and in the meantime make a record of any incidents.
Can I claim for equal pay even though I’ve moved to a new job?
Equal pay law allows you to claim loss of earnings and interest up to a maximum six years in the past – or five in Scotland.
However, if your new job is with a new employer you must usually bring your claim within the period of six months beginning with the last day of your employment with your previous employer.
Even if the new job is with the same employer, you must generally bring your claim within the same six-month time limit unless the new job involves the variation of your existing contract of employment as opposed to the entering into of a new contract of employment.
Contact your UNISON rep for more information.
I am being discriminated against because of my gender. What should I do?
You may want to raise the issue with your line manager first.
If you can’t resolve the issue informally, speak to your UNISON rep.
You should be aware that strict time limits apply to making a tribunal claim, usually three months less one day from the date of the act of discrimination.
In Northern Ireland the time limit is exactly three months.
I want to return to work after having my baby, but my manager says there is no longer a job for me. What can I do?
You have the right to return to your job (or a suitable and appropriate alternative job if you are returning to work after additional as opposed to ordinary maternity leave and it is not reasonably practicable for your employer to permit you to return to your old job).
It is unlawful for your employers to discriminate against you for reasons connected to pregnancy (including pregnancy-related illness) or maternity leave. See your UNISON representative immediately.
Next steps for UNISON reps
Learn about the terms of the 2010 Equality Act.
Learn about the terms of the SDO and the Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970 (as amended).
Encourage members to join the equal pay campaign.
What if I’ve retired? Can I still claim for equal pay in my last job?
Yes, provided you put in your claim promptly, and usually within six months of leaving your job.