What is a statutory discrimination questionnaire?

NOTE: The statutory discrimination questionnaire procedure is repealed from 6 April 2014. However, the statutory procedure remains relevant in certain circumstances; see Must an employer respond to employees' questions about alleged discrimination following the repeal of the statutory discrimination questionnaire procedure? for more information.

A statutory discrimination questionnaire is a procedure, provided for by s.138 of the Equality Act 2010, that allows an individual who believes that he or she may have been discriminated against to ask the employer relevant questions about the matter. The questionnaire procedure can be used to obtain information about suspected discrimination in relation to all of the protected characteristics, ie age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. The procedure can also be used to obtain information in relation to an equal pay complaint.

A questionnaire is often used to try to elicit information from the employer to decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds to bring a discrimination claim, although it is possible for the complainant to submit a tribunal claim first and serve a questionnaire within 28 days of submitting the claim.

The questionnaire and the employer's answer to it can be used as evidence in relevant tribunal proceedings.

There are standard questionnaire forms, produced by the Government: one for equal pay complaints and one for complaints about all other types of discrimination, such as race or disability. There are also standard answer forms for employers to use to respond to the complainant's questions. However, it is not compulsory to use these forms, for example the questions or answers could be in the form of a letter to the other party.