• Startups
  • October 27, 2021

What is the Difference Between Direct Discrimination and Indirect Discrimination?

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By Lawbite Team

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When it comes to equality and discrimination law, it is important that your business, whether it is small, medium, large, private or public, understands what is meant by direct and indirect discrimination. By ensuring that both are considered at all stages of the hiring process, you can avoid costly and reputation damaging claims being brought against your business while creating a fairer and more respectful environment for your valued employees.  

What is the difference between direct and indirect discrimination?


Direct and indirect discrimination are two of the four types of discrimination covered by the Equality Act 2010 (the others being harassment and victimisation); the differences being as follows:

Direct discrimination


Direct discrimination occurs when an individual is personally discriminated against due to a protected characteristic such as sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, or disability. An example might be if a person is not selected for a job because they are over a certain age or pregnant.

Indirect discrimination


Indirect discrimination occurs when a policy or rule affects a wider group of people (e.g. all employees), but some people are more unfairly affected than others. An example of indirect discrimination might be whereby a job advert discriminates indirectly on age because it asks for people with ten years of experience rather than focusing on their skills and qualifications.

By doing this the business could be discriminating indirectly based on age. This is because the job advert excludes young people who may still have the skills and qualifications needed.

In either case, a challenge can only be brought for discrimination if it affects a person personally. For example, if the person is not able to meet a contractual obligation, such as being required to travel around the UK when and where needed, this may discriminate against a primary carer for a young child for whom this would be impractical and unfair.

Get legal assistance from LawBite


To ensure your business is able to avoid any potential for direct discrimination or indirect discrimination and to review your HR processes, rules, and procedures for compliance with the Equality Act 2010, speak to one of our expert employment lawyers at LawBite

Additionally, if your business is facing a discrimination complaint, our team will be able to explain the options available and manage the claim process on your behalf, using alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR) where possible.

Additional useful information

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.



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