What is Positive Action?
This is defined as ‘any measure, beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, adopted to correct or compensate for past or present discrimination, or to prevent discrimination recurring in the future:
It is when something is done to help someone with a protected characteristic where people with that characteristic are underrepresented in a certain area.
Prior to the Equality Act there were only limited forms of positive action.
S.158 of Equality Act 2010: Allows generally for employers to take actions to alleviate disadvantages suffered by people sharing the same protected characteristic. This is voluntary, not mandatory. An example is when an employer offers a development programme specifically for female staff to improve representation of women in senior staff.
S.159 of Equality Act 2009: Deals with positive action in employment and promotion. A ‘tie breaker’: where two candidates apply, and they are equal in capability, the employer can choose the candidate with a protected characteristic that may be underrepresented in their organisation/company. An example; the equal candidates are male and female, but the employer chooses the female because there are few female employees in his company.
This section allows for such discrimination without consequence, as it deals with negative discrimination.