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Discrimination at work

discrimination at work

The Equality Act 2010 gives disabled people protection from discrimination in a number of different areas, including employment and recruitment.

HIV is considered to be a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act from the time of diagnosis and regardless of your current health status.

This protection makes it illegal for employers to discriminate directly or indirectly on grounds of disability.

The regulation applies from the time you apply for a job, through to your employment (by regulating the terms and conditions of employment), to your promotion and redundancy.

How does the Equality Act 2010 protect you from discrimination?

Protection begins at the recruitment process. The Equality Act protects you from less favourable treatment in the following areas:

  • When you apply for a job.
  • In the terms under which employment is offered to you.
  • In opportunities given to you for training, promotion or other benefits.
  • In the way you are treated by your employer and your colleagues.
  • If you're being dismissed or selected for redundancy.
  • After you leave your job, for example when you request a reference or deal with the company pension fund.

An employer can be held responsible not just for the discriminatory actions of the management or of the company itself, but also for the behaviour of your colleagues. For example if you suffer harassment from a colleague and the employer cannot show that they took steps to try to prevent this from happening, then the employer can be held responsible.

What adjustments can I expect?

Probably the most important aspect of the legislation is the right to request reasonable adjustments at your place of work.

If there is a way of working or an aspect of the workplace which puts you at a disadvantage, your employer must make all adjustments which are reasonable to remove that disadvantage. This means that they must take reasonable steps so that you can carry out your job without disadvantage.

Your employer must be aware of your disability before they can be expected to make reasonable adjustments.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments include:

  • making a workplace accessible to a worker who uses a wheelchair
  • allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another person
  • altering the person’s hours of work or training
  • work or training at a different location
  • allowing a disabled employee to take a period of disability leave
  • providing supervision or other support.

What is ‘reasonable’ is determined on a case-by-case basis. Your employer may consider how effective the change will be in avoiding the disadvantage you would otherwise experience, its practicality, the cost based on the organisation’s resources and size and the availability of financial support.

For people with HIV, the most commonly requested adjustments tend to be time off for clinic appointments, changes in hours worked and changes to start or finish times.

Another important aspect of the legislation is that, except in very restricted circumstances, the employer is prohibited from asking job applicants health or disability related questions until the person has been offered a job.

If you believe that you've experienced discrimination at your workplace and want to take action, the Equality Act sets out a deadline of three months from the actual date the discrimination took place, in which to make a claim in the employment tribunal.

More information and support:



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  • i need to speak to a solicitor who understands someone being gay, someone who is living with HIV, and also breach of employment act and dissability act but cannot find a solicitor who would understand this main point of PLW HIV as all employment solictors deal with main stream heterosexual cases. My councillors and GP have said I really have a case but I cannot find a solicitor who is understanding of this and its a bit like I am embarrrassed to keep repeating myself to every solicitor i call repeating the same story but time is now upon me and i just need to know if there is one out there.

    Posted 06:14 Tue 10 Jul 2012

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 8/11/2016 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 8/11/2019

Content Author: Gillian Arrindell

Current Owner: Gillian Arrindell

More information:

Equality Act 2010, legislation.gov.uk (2010)

AdviserNet What is Discrimination, AdviserNet Discrimination and Equality and Human Rights Act 2010.(Equality Act 2010)