How are employees protected from sex discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees (both male and female) from direct discrimination because of their sex. The definition of direct discrimination extends to less favourable treatment because of a person's perceived sex (for example an employer may wrongly assume a job applicant is female based on the name on the application form) or because of their association with someone who is (or is perceived to be) of a particular sex. Employees are also protected from unjustified indirect sex discrimination; sex-related harassment; harassment of a sexual nature; less favourable treatment based on a person's rejection of, or submission to, sex-related harassment or harassment of a sexual nature; and victimisation.

In most cases, pregnancy and maternity discrimination will fall under the pregnancy and maternity provisions of the Act, but in certain circumstances (for example, harassment or indirect discrimination related to pregnancy and maternity) the sex discrimination provisions may apply. Although sex discrimination in relation to pay and other contractual benefits falls under the equality of terms provisions of the Act, the sex discrimination provisions can be used in cases of direct pay discrimination where there is no comparator.