This page gives you more information on each of the nine protected characteristics.
A person has a disability if she or he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
See our disability advice and guidance section.
Marriage and civil partnership
Marriage is a union between a man and a woman or between a same-sex couple.
Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as 'civil partnerships'. Civil partners must not be treated less favourably than married couples (except where permitted by the Equality Act).
See our advice and guidance on marriage and civil partnership discrimination.
Pregnancy and maternity
Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
Find out more about our work on pregnancy and maternity in the workplace.
Refers to the protected characteristic of race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.
See our advice and guidance on race discrimination.
Religion and belief
Religion refers to any religion, including a lack of religion. Belief refers to any religious or philosophical belief and includes a lack of belief. Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.
See our guidance on religion or belief at work.
Last updated: 03 Jun 2018