What is Indirect Discrimination?

Discrimination is a word that we are all very familiar with. But something that we may not be so familiar with, is a form of discrimination called indirect discrimination.

The Australian Human Rights Commission defines indirect discrimination as having occurred “when there is an unreasonable rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people who share a particular attribute”. In more simple terms, it means treating everyone the same – imposing a policy (or rule) that is the same for everybody, but which is unfair or disadvantages some people who cannot comply with the policy (or rule) because of a characteristic they have that is protected by law e.g., because of their cultural practices or beliefs. There are protected attributes under both the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The protected attributes under the Fair Work Act are:

Race   Colour Sex
Sexual orientation Age Physical or mental disability  
Marital status Family or carer’s responsibilities   Pregnancy
Religion Political opinion National extraction  
Social origin    

Some examples of indirect discrimination in the workplace might include:

Requiring all team members to attend a compulsory team meeting at 3pm on Fridays. On the surface this may seem reasonable and easy to comply with however one team member is required by their faith to attend prayer on Fridays at this time.

Imposing a policy that says that all Managers must work full-time hours. On the surface this may seem reasonable and easy to comply with however one manager has recently had a baby and now wants to return to work on a part-time basis for a period.

Imposing a rule that says that staff who work at customer service counters cannot sit on stools. This may seem reasonable and easy to comply with however two staff members have a disability which makes it very difficult for them to stand for extended periods of time.

There are a multitude of ways in which a person can be discriminated against. To make sure that everyone involved with your business is treated fairly it is best practice to engage in consultation with your staff before implementing a new policy or changes to an existing policy. Where it is identified that the policy may be discriminatory for some people, look at ways to adjust the policy so that it is fair for all.

If you need help with this, please contact me to discuss how I may be able to assist. You can get in touch via the contact form or by email megan@mmchr.com.au



© MMC HR - All Rights Reserved 2024

Website created by SoDutch Web Design & SEO

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping