Positive action

New law in force

The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.

The term ‘positive action’ refers to legal measures that are designed to counteract the effects of past discrimination and to help abolish stereotyping. Positive action can be taken to encourage people of a particular religion or belief to take advantage of opportunities for training or work experience schemes, or encourage them to apply for particular employment. It can only be done when a particular group has been identified as under-represented in a certain area of employment.

Positive action may include things like introducing fair selection procedures, training programmes or targeting job advertisements at a particular group. Positive action is not the same as positive discrimination, and does not involve treating particular groups more favourably when recruiting. Employers must make sure that employees are hired or promoted on merit alone. At the point when a candidate is selected, their religion or belief must not be taken into account.

Example

A local authority is concerned that, despite having a large local Muslim population, few Muslims apply for jobs that are advertised by the authority. When advertising for staff, the authority states that it encourages job applications from people with religious beliefs that are under-represented in their organisation. At the same time, the authority makes it clear that all job applications are treated strictly on merit. The authority also contacts local Muslim community representatives and organisations, asking them to encourage suitably qualified people to apply.

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