Protected characteristics

What are 'protected characteristics'?

Protected characteristics are specific aspects of a person's identity defined by the Equality Act 2010. The 'protection' relates to protection from discrimination.

The Nine Protected Characteristics

Who is protected

Everyone in Britain is protected, whether they identify with a minority or majority expression of a characteristic. People don't always realise, for example, that being white, male and heterosexual relates to the characteristics of race, sex and sexual orientation, so it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on any of those grounds.

It is not uncommon for someone to identify with more than one characteristic, and discrimination can sometimes occur because of the way these characteristics combine. Currently, the law provides protection from direct discrimination on the grounds of the combination of two characteristics ('combined discrimination: dual characteristics') as well as a single characteristic.

It is important to recognise that circumstances can change, and people may begin or cease to identify with certain characteristics. For example:

  • the pregnancy and maternity period is time-limited;
  • a person might be disabled as a result of a health condition for a period of time but eventually improve or recover;
  • a healthy person may become physically or mentally unwell, resulting in a disability.

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Having robust data about our staff profile enables us to identify areas for development in order to become more inclusive and ensure that no group is disadvantaged in their staff journey. This information is used for statistical purposes only, and although the information you provide will be linked to your staff HR record any reporting using this data will be anonymous. Your information will be kept securely and can only be accessed by a very limited number of staff and only according to genuine business need. If you don't wish to provide any information you can select the 'prefer not to say' option.