This policy provides a framework for The Language Shop’s employees to easily understand and implement measures ensuring equality and diversity. In conjunction with related policies and key documents, it will also enable employees to identify and effectively report a potential breach.

The purpose of this policy is to inform staff of TLSL’s statutory duty to address breaches of the Equality Act and of our commitment to equality and diversity within the Company.

Who is governed by this policy?

This policy covers all personnel, including all levels and grades, those permanently employed, temporary agency staff, seconded staff, contractors, non-executives, agents and consultants.

Consequences of non-compliance

That staff will not be aware of the Company’s responsibilities in relation to equality and diversity and may fail to take appropriate action.


The Company will not tolerate and opposes all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination and prejudice. The Language Shop Limited is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to the principles and promotion of equality and diversity within the workplace.

A harmonious workforce that respects all individuals and their differences is good for people and good for business. As an employer, The Language Shop Limited has a duty to its employees. This policy sets out The Language Shop Limited’s commitments and legal obligations to all its employees, and prospective employees, in upholding these principles in the workplace. All staff are expected to familiarise themselves with The Language Shop Limited’s Equality & Diversity policy. This policy applies to all staff across the organisation.

One of the ways the Company can discharge this duty is by making all personnel:

aware of the Company’s views on equality and diversity
aware of their personal responsibilities in relation to their conduct
aware of what action they should take if they become aware of unlawful discrimination, behaviours or conduct.

The Language Shop’s Equality and Diversity Commitment

The Language Shop operates in one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse regions in the UK. We have a diverse workforce and believe that this better represents the people it serves, and that those differences in culture and life experiences bring creativity, vitality and innovation to the organisation. Alongside the Company’s belief that its workforce should be representative of all sections of society, the Company is committed to promoting a harmonious working environment, where all employees are treated fairly and with respect, and contribute to the organisation’s aim to eliminate prejudice and unlawful discrimination.

The Company opposes, and will not tolerate, any unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the grounds of gender, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, nationality, cultural background, disability, HIV positivity, religion or age. The Language Shop Limited needs to ensure that it complies with equality law, but legal compliance and moral responsibilities are not the only reasons why it is in the Company’s interest to promote equality and diversity.

When discrimination, harassment or victimisation arises in the workplace it can bring about a climate of fear, stress and anxiety amongst employees. It may also put a heavy strain on personal and family life, and can lead to increased absenteeism, a lack of commitment and poor performance. Putting equality into practice and promoting a diverse and harmonious workforce will encourage people to give their best. Improved motivation and performance in turn has a positive impact for the Company as a service provider, as people who use their full potential are more productive and give a better service to our customers.

The following principles and commitments to equality and diversity that the Company will work to and expect all staff to work by are as follows:

  • All staff should question and challenge their own decisions and behaviours and consider how they may be perceived
    Any behaviours, decisions or practices that potentially cause acts of prejudice or unlawful discrimination must be challenged, and the appropriate action taken
  • The individual differences, characteristics and lifestyles of all staff should be respected and valued by everyone, based upon an understanding, tolerance and appreciation of the differences in people.
  • Every employee is entitled to a working environment that promotes dignity, fairness and respect to all. The organisation will not tolerate any form of intimidation, bullying, harassment, victimisation or unfair discrimination.
  • Breaches of the equality policy will be regarded as serious misconduct and could lead to disciplinary proceedings
    The Equality & Diversity policy will be periodically reviewed alongside other employment practices and policies and could lead to disciplinary proceedings
  • The Equality & Diversity policy will be periodically reviewed alongside other employment practices, policies and procedures and changes in legislation to ensure its effectiveness
  • The Language Shop Limited will provide learning opportunities to managers and employees to increase awareness of and further promote the principles of equality and diversity
  • This policy will be fully supported by senior management.

The Equality Act 2010 and Protected Characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 brings together and harmonises over 116 pieces of legislation into one single act. Combined they make up a new simpler legal framework to protect the rights of individuals from unfair treatment and advance the equality of opportunity for all. This now means that the right of the individual not to be discriminated against are much stronger in law. Discrimination means treating someone unfairly because of who they are. The groups of people who have the legal right not to be discriminated against have in law what are called protected characteristics, as defined in the Equality Act 2010, and they are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • gender/sex
  • sexual orientation

It is unlawful to discriminate in the recruitment OR the employment of any person with any one of these protected characteristics.

It doesn’t matter whether any of these characteristics apply to you, or the people in your life, such as family members or friends or colleagues. If you are treated less favourably because someone thinks you belong to or have an association with a group of people with protected characteristics, this is still discrimination as defined by the law. For example, if you are discriminated against because your son is disabled, you are protected by the law.

There are some very limited circumstances where it may be lawful to treat an individual with a protected characteristic differently and these are covered in more detail below.

Discrimination after employment may also be unlawful; for example, refusing to give a reference for a reason related to one of the protected characteristics. It is important to note that there is no qualifying period of employment; protection under the Equality Act begins from day one of employment.

Defining Discrimination

Discrimination can occur in various forms, sometimes unintentionally, and the Equality Act defines seven specific forms of discrimination, as described below:

  • Direct Discrimination – This is where a person is directly treated less favourably than another person simply because of their protected characteristic. For example, refusing to employ a woman because she is pregnant would be direct discrimination.
  • Indirect Discrimination – This a where a person or a group of people are treated less favorably because a decision, provision, criterion or practice (PCP) has been applied that would be to the detriment of those people with a protected characteristic compared with people who do not, and it cannot be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. A PCP may be discriminative if:
    • there is a disproportionate impact on people with a particular protected characteristic
    • it is to the disadvantage of a person with that protected characteristic, and
    • it is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
  • Associative Discrimination – This is where an individual is directly discriminated against, victimised or harassed because of their association with another individual who has a protected characteristic. For example, if somebody treats you less favourably because your sister is gay, or your father is black, or your friend is disabled or because of any other protected characteristic, this is still discrimination against you.
  • Perceptive Discrimination – This is where an individual is directly discriminated against, victimised or harassed based upon on a perception that he/she has a particular protected characteristic when he/she in fact does not.
  • Harassment – This is ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’. For example, telling jokes about a person’s religion or their sexuality, either directed to them or not, is considered harassment under the Equality Act. Employees can still make a complaint of harassment even if they don’t possess the protected characteristic or the harassment is not directed at them.
  • Victimisation – This is where an employee is treated less favourably because they have made or supported a complaint related to the Equality Act, or they are suspected of doing so. Victimisation occurs where an employee is subjected to a detriment, such as being denied a training opportunity or a promotion because he/she made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act 2010, or because he/she is suspected of doing so. However, an employee is not protected from victimisation if he/she acted maliciously or made or supported an untrue complaint. There is no longer a need for a complainant to compare his/her treatment with someone who has not made or supported a complaint under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Failure to make Reasonable Adjustments – This is where an employer fails to agree and make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. This is a specific form of unlawful discrimination, aimed at ensuring that disabled people have the same or better access, as far as is reasonable, to everything that is involved in getting and doing a job as non-disabled people. When an employer assesses a disabled job applicant’s suitability for a job, they must take account of any reasonable adjustments, which are needed to enable them to do the job. Where a physical feature or a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with someone who does not have that protected characteristic and the employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments to enable the disabled person to overcome the disadvantage, this is unlawful discrimination. It is important that the working environment does not prevent people with disabilities from taking up and carrying out positions for which they are qualified. A disabled person who believes they have been unlawfully treated can complain to a tribunal. There is no upper limit of financial compensation if a complaint is upheld.

The Language Shop’s Resolution Policy encourages early resolution and offers a collaborative system of dispute resolution which balances the rights of the parties with their interests and needs; it brings the core principles of mediation to the forefront of dispute resolution and encourages constructive resolution at every stage of a dispute. Any dispute should be treated in a fair and consistent way and dealt with quickly and supportively. This approach can be used for individuals and groups when there is a collective complaint. Please refer to The Language Shop’s Resolution Policy for more information.


Sometimes there are situations where an exception to law can be applied. There are several exceptions that apply to all employers. There are others that only apply to particular types of employer. Some examples of exceptions include:

  • Occupational Requirements – If the Language Shop Limited can show that a particular protected characteristic is central to a particular job, they can insist that only someone who has that particular protected characteristic is suitable for the job. This would be a ‘occupational requirement’. For example, a women’s refuge may want to say that it should be able to employ only women. Its client base is only women who are experiencing domestic violence committed by men. Therefore, this would probably be a genuine occupational requirement.
  • Obeying another Law – The Language Shop Limited can take into account a protected characteristic where not doing so would mean they broke another law, for example age requirement to drive an HGV vehicle.
  • Positive Action – Positive action denotes the steps that an employer can take to encourage people from groups experiencing disadvantage or low participation to take up employment opportunities, including jobs, training, promotion, transfer or other development opportunities. Equality law allows an employer to target opportunities at particular groups. This is not the same as ‘positive discrimination’, which equality law does not allow.
  • Treating People More Favourably – Equality does not always mean everyone has to be treated exactly the same. Some people may need to be treated differently to ensure they have the same equality of opportunity as everyone. In particular, in some areas equality law allows an employer to treat disabled people more favourably than non-disabled people, in recognition that disabled people face a lot of barriers to participating in work and other activities. For example, each year, an employer allocates a certain amount of money per worker to pay for training. They decide to allocate an additional budget to provide training which is only available to disabled staff. This would not be unlawful discrimination against non-disabled workers.

Staff responsibilities

The upholding of equality and diversity in the workplace is the responsibility of all those working for the company or under its control. All staff are required to avoid activity that breaches this policy.

You must:

  • ensure that you read, understand and comply with this policy
  • raise concerns as soon as possible if you believe or suspect that a conflict with this policy has occurred, or may occur in the future.

As well as the possibility of civil and criminal prosecution, staff that breach this policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for gross misconduct.

Raising a concern

The Language Shop is committed to ensuring that all of its employees and staff have a safe, reliable, and confidential way of reporting any unlawful discrimination, behavior, conduct or activity. We want each and every member of staff to know how they can raise concerns.

If you believe that you have been unfairly or unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised, or that the Company has failed to make reasonable adjustments in relation to your disability then you should submit a complaint.

In the first instance, please speak confidentially with your line manager or another line manager. Alternatively, please speak up by contacting the Quality Services Manager – your information and assistance will help. The sooner you act, the sooner it can be resolved. For further information, please refer to The Language Shop’s Resolution Policy.