April 28, 2021

The legislation that protects transgender employees

Diversity and inclusion is quickly climbing the business agenda. Something to consider is how you can better support employees with gender dysphoria, as well as transitioning and transgender employees.

What is the legislation that protects transgender employees? What are your obligations as an employer? And what does best practice look like? Keep reading to find out.

Gender discrimination

Gender discrimination is on the rise, according to the World Economic Forum, the UK is slipping further down the global index. The UK was previously 15th and is now 21st out of 153 countries. These figures put the UK behind several wealthy countries including Germany, New Zealand, and Canada. But they also put us behind less developed countries, including the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Namibia. The figures are partly a refection of the general recognition of people who are gender dysphoric.

What is gender dysphoria?

A small number of people find the gender they are assigned at birth does not match their gender identity. People are labelled as either ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. Yet if we look at people living today, we can find many examples of people who don’t fit into these two small boxes. These people are living proof that gender embraces a whole range of different identities and experiences.

Gender Recognition Act 2004

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was created for people who want to legally change their gender from the one stated on their birth certificate. This process involves applying to the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

To qualify, a person has to have been living in their chosen gender for two years, have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and be able to satisfy the panel they intend to live in that gender permanently. If the application is successful, they are then entitled to use the gender stated in this certificate “for all purposes”.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010, implemented fully in Scotland, England and Wales in 2012, serves to protect individuals from unfair treatment and promote equality in society. Nine protected characteristics are outlined in the Act, one of them being “gender reassignment”. It’s a legal requirement to promote a working environment in which diversity is recognised, valued, and encouraged.

Employers must acknowledge the multi-cultural and diverse nature of the UK workforce and society in general. We must be committed to principles of fairness and mutual respect where everyone accepts the concept of individual responsibility.

What are the protected characteristics?

No job applicant, employee, or anyone our organisation deals with receives less favourable treatment because of their protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin)
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

How can organisations encourage inclusivity?

Stonewall UK have requested that trans inclusion be part of the Workplace Equality Index; and have suggested questions to check organisations inclusion of trans-specific requirements in UK workplaces:

  • Does the organisation provide support and guidance to individuals who are transitioning while in their workplace?
  • Does the organisation enable non-binary employees to be recognised on workplace systems?
  • Does the organisation communicate trans-specific events such as Trans Day of Visibility?
  • Does the organisation profile trans people in employee communications?
  • Do senior leaders send strong messages about their commitment to trans equality?
  • Does the organisation support trans community groups and events?

Next steps

To ensure you have robust and legally sound policies in place, please contact the our policy team to discuss your organisations specific requirement relating to equality including gender. Not a Moorepay customer? Contact us on 0345 184 4615 to find out how we can support you.

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About the author

Stephen Johnson

About the author

Stephen Johnson

Stephen has over 25 years experience in private sector HR and management roles, working as a Manager for over 10 years and eventually moving into the financial services industry. In his current role as an HR Policy Review Consultant he develops, reviews and maintains our clients’ employment documentation. With extensive knowledge of management initiatives and HR disciplines Stephen is commercially focused and supports clients in delivering their business objectives whilst minimising the risk of litigation.

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