Guidance for small businesses and human rights

Advice and Guidance

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Our work with small businesses

We have been working with smaller businesses to find out how best we can support those that don’t have in-house HR or Legal advice. As a result we have developed a series of guides tailored to the specific needs of small and medium sized businesses.

Smaller businesses operate in an ever more diverse world both at home and abroad. Treating people fairly, with dignity and respect, is at the heart of both the Equality Act and global standards for business’ responsibility to respect human rights.

Workplace policies that prevent discrimination and protect and promote people’s rights to an inclusive and safe working environment can not only reduce costs but enable you to retain and attract the best staff and improve your productivity and performance.

Attention to the diverse needs of customers and their communities could help you to identify new products and markets. Understanding your human rights impacts is important in safeguarding your business reputation in the communities in which it operates and in the wider marketplace.

The Equality Act: Guidance for Small Businesses

This guide helps smaller businesses to understand key legal definitions set out in the Equality Act 2010 and offers practical advice in managing important business challenges and dilemmas.


Guide to business and human rights

This guide to ''business and human rights: how human rights can add value to your business' sets out six key areas that are particularly relevant to smaller businesses. It also sets out a simple model to understand and put in place respect for human rights across the whole of a business' operations and its supply chain.

It draws on research carried out by Middlesex University which found a particular gap in the support available to smaller businesses to understand what is meant by business and human rights and what they can do to ensure respect for human rights. You can also find some short sound bites of businesses talking about how they have adapted to become more human rights focused.


Guide to Business and Human Rights (March 2013)

Guidance on Business and Human Rights: a Review

Advice for Employers

08457 474 747
ACAS provides information, advice and guidance on a wide range of employment issues such as flexible working, how best to handle redundancies, and equal pay.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
0207 215 5000
As the umbrella government department for business, BEIS, supports and regulates business in a number of ways including by providing guidance on employment rights and responsibilities.

Business Disability Forum
Provides advice on employing and conducting business with people with disabilities.

Business support helpline
0300 456 3565 (England)
0845 609 6611 (Scotland)
0300 060 3000 (Wales)
Get advice on starting and running a business.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
Gives introductory guidance to employers on how to avoid making redundancies and the procedure they should follow to ensure they are acting within the law.
Includes articles offering guides and tips for employers on the rules of redundancy and how to avoid unfair dismissal claims.

Central Arbitration Committee (CAC)
020 7904 2300
For employers seeking trade union recognition, the CAC website includes step-by-step guidance as well as application forms.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
08457 143 143
Provides information and advice for employers on issues such as statutory maternity and paternity leave, statutory pay, redundancy and sick leave.  There is also a tool to  calculate pay for sick, maternity and paternity leave.

Access to work
Employers can access this scheme to obtain extra funds to help them buy the necessary equipment or make the required alterations to their premises so their disabled employee(s) can come to work and do their job(s) properly. There are also funds available to pay for support workers if required.

Local Employment Partnerships
A scheme run by the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus which aims to help businesses reach and recruit potential employees from different backgrounds to create a more diverse workforce.

Where to direct employees

08457 474 747
ACAS can advise employees by setting out their rights and explaining what steps they should take.

Citizens Advice Bureau
Gives comprehensive information, advice and in some cases representation about all employment issues. 

Trades Union Congress (TUC) Worksmart
This TUC site provides information for employees about their employment rights, including a leaflet about redundancy - 'Coping with the Economic Downturn', written with input from Citizens Advice and including advice about finding new work and accessing skills training.

Government guidance on all aspects of employment, including working, jobs and pensions.

NHS Carers Direct
Gives information about carers’ rights in employment and beyond, as well as the services available to them.

JobCentre Plus
Provides help, guidance and support to people looking for a new job and explains the procedure for making benefit claims.

Last updated: 15 Jul 2019

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.