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Occupational requirements and other exceptions


There are some limited exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

A key exception that applies to all the protected characteristics (except pregnancy and maternity) is where an employer can show that direct discrimination in favour of a particular protected characteristic is justified as an occupational requirement.

There is a religious exception concerning employment for the purposes of an organised religion. There is also a religious exception that allows an employer that has an ethos based on religion or belief to require that an employee hold a particular religion or belief. This exception applies only to the protected characteristic of religion and belief.

There are also other exceptions specific to particular characteristics.

Subject to satisfying certain conditions, the Equality Act allows employers to take positive action measures to improve equality for people who share a protected characteristic.

Employees working under an illegal contract may not necessarily be prevented from bringing a claim for discrimination.

The definition of "employment, under s.83(2) of the Equality Act 2010, is broader than the definition of employment that is used for unfair dismissal and other employment claims. This means that the use of "employee" in this section should be read as including workers, apprentices, etc.