Last week was Transgender Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness and visibility to trans people and the issues members of the community face.
Gender Reassignment is one of the nine protected characteristics set out under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”) which protects trans people from discrimination in the workplace. This includes employees, contract workers, partners and office holders during all stages of the employment relationship, including in relation to recruitment, terms and conditions of contracts, promotions, dismissals and training.
The Act requires that a person should have at least proposed to undergo gender reassignment to have the protected characteristic. It does not require such a proposal to be irrevocable. For example, a person who starts the gender reassignment process but then decides to stop still has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
The term “gender reassignment”, which is currently used under the Act, has been criticised in the past for being outdated and unclear as to who is covered and who is not. For example, the Act does not mention people who identify as non-binary or gender fluid. However, Acas comments that “someone with a non-binary identity could be protected if they are discriminated against because they are thought to be considering, going through, or having gone through gender reassignment…regardless whether the perception is correct or not”.
In Scotland, the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was introduced in March 2022 and is currently at final stages of consideration. The Bill proposes to lower the age people can legally change gender from 18 to 16, and changes the process to get a gender recognition certificate – the document which legally recognises that a person’s gender is not the gender that they were assigned at birth, but is their “acquired gender”.
Despite the Act being in place, discrimination against trans people in the workplace remains a prominent issue. A report published by the CIPD last year found that 55% of trans workers experienced conflict in the workplace in the past twelve months, which included discriminatory behaviour. This shows that progress is still to be made in relation to awareness of trans issues in the workplace.
At Jackson Boyd, we offer advice in relation to a range of employment issues including discrimination. We also offer training to employers and annual retainer packages to support your organisation with any employment queries and claims as and when they arise.