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The Laws on Transgender Rights in the Workplace

There are many laws to protect individuals in the UK from facing discrimination, but many businesses still need to take steps in order to ensure that transgender individuals in the workplace feel safe and comfortable. Transgender people are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, be that direct harassment, institutionalised prejudices, or simply a lack of understanding of their needs. 

In a time in which workplace acceptance towards individuals of all walks of life is increasing, there is added pressure for employers to accommodate all individuals in their workplace, not only to follow laws but to promote a place of work in which no person is rejected based on their gender identity. It is vital that all necessary support and precautions are taken in order to ensure this does not happen. 

The law on transgender acceptance

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and this includes individuals whose gender identity does not match the one they were assigned at birth. 

Whilst the law protects transgender individuals, the terms used can cause legal complications. An example is “transsexual”, which is used to denote trans people, but the term evolved to be a separate definition under the ‘trans’ umbrella. The law also does not mention ‘non-binary’ people, a group rapidly growing in representation in society. However there has been a recent first instance Tribunal Judgement which deemed that a non-binary/gender fluid person was covered by the Equality Act. It is clear that employers should take every step necessary to create a safe working environment for everyone.

Why creating a transgender-inclusive workplace is fundamental to your business

Creating an inclusive workplace is of increasing importance for many organisations; the benefits of employing people from all backgrounds result in a multi-faceted workforce that can have positive effects on an organisation’s growth and bring new ideas and innovation. More importantly, it is reflective of the population, ensuring that all individuals are given equal opportunities. It is therefore imperative that employers strive to accommodate all, no matter the size or industry of the organisation.

Nevertheless, a lack of understanding of trans people can lead to personal and legal obstacles. 

How your business benefits from an inclusive workplace

For your business, hiring transgender individuals leads to an inclusive workplace in which employees are more likely to be productive, reciprocating the effort made to promote inclusivity. Feeling valued by an employer on a professional level, irrespective of your gender identity, increases employee retention and productivity in any workplace, which can be accompanied by increases in organisational loyalty and attendance. 

Why inclusive recruitment is vital for your business

The UK is a nation built upon the diversity of its population, bringing with it excelling individuals from all backgrounds. From an employer’s standpoint, the priority is hiring those best suited to the job, and this will certainly include trans people.

In the recruitment process, employers should ensure that no barriers exist for trans applicants; deleting wording from application forms that exclude them, ensuring that all communication between both parties is trans-inclusive, drawing applications from suitable trans job seekers, and of course, not denying someone the opportunity for work based on their gender identity.

Sometimes, issues arise in a workplace when employers and employees’ lack of understanding leads to implicit discrimination. Additional training for all employees, from the top-down, increases awareness of what an individual could be going through, and be better prepared to ensure they are accommodated. It is not difficult to understand and use the correct pronouns for everyone, and while it can be intimidating or confusing at first if you are completely unfamiliar with such concepts, it is still important to try, as this shows respect towards trans people.

A plan to help transitioning employees

An individual undergoing transition (or planning to) may not wish to disclose this information to everyone, but you should encourage them to take regular meetings, either with a direct superior, a human resources representative or both, to discuss any issues that arise. Creating a plan with the individual in question to agree on any accommodations they might need is a great way to provide the support they need and plan ahead.

You may need to make changes to any physical features of the workplace that may create obstacles for the trans employee and anticipate absences from work for appointments related to the transitioning process. Which facilities the person uses should be up to them, as this aspect of identity is protected by law, and any referring documents should reflect their chosen identity. Should the individual wish for anonymity, this should of course be respected.

Clampdown on harassment

Protection of vulnerable people in the workplace is vital. Any occurrence of workplace harassment should be dealt with appropriately and treated with the same severity as any case of bullying. Remember, discrimination can also take the form of exclusivity. As well as harming individuals, this type of behaviour will negatively affect productivity, employee retention and communication within your business, so it is in everyone’s best interests to stop it as soon as it arises.

It is the employer’s responsibility to create a workplace environment that opens the floor for discussion and inclusivity. There should be adequate support and protection for all in the workforce, no matter their background or characteristics.

Following workplace discrimination

Despite the push towards inclusivity, workplace discrimination still exists in the UK. It is against the law to discriminate against employees for any reason related to their gender identity, so if you have been the victim of discrimination, be it from an employer, colleague, organisation representative, or communications, you should seek the advice of professional legal advisors.

PHR Solicitors is a team of dedicated professionals, working tirelessly to help individuals who have faced discrimination at work. Having supported many through the legal processes of making a claim for workplace prejudice, there is no team better suited to help you through the procedure of making a successful claim.

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