Discrimination questions – asking and responding

Topic Index
Overview
Questions about discrimination
Questions about equal pay and contractual terms and conditions
Resources: asking discrimination questions

Overview


  • Employees who want to find out whether they’ve been subject to discrimination can ask their employer questions about this. There is no longer a statutory questionnaire for these purposes; this was abolished in April 2014. It was replaced by a more informal process supplemented by ACAS guidance.
  • Employers are under no legal obligation to respond to such questions from employees and tribunals are not entitled to draw adverse inferences from either a failure to respond or from an equivocal or evasive response. However an employer’s failure to respond may be considered as a contributory factor by a tribunal when making its overall decision on a claim.
  • It is important to note that the April 2014 change only removed the statutory procedural mechanism - not the scope for establishing facts about whether discrimination, harassment or victimisation under the Equality Act has occurred.
  • Employees can now ask questions in any format, at any time. There is no compulsory time frame within which employers must respond. Despite the rigidity of the previous statutory questionnaire, it’s arguable that it did at least provide a degree of certainty with questions usually contained in a single document and with a fixed time frame to work within.
  • Employers now must ensure they keep track of any and all such requests for information and that they consider carefully and respond within a reasonable period to each one.
  • The ACAS guidance explains how jobseekers and employees who think they may have been discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010, can ask questions about what may have happened to them and how employers that receive such requests can/should respond.
  • It includes useful examples and case studies, as well as a template (in Annex 1) for those asking such questions of their employer.
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