Click on the dropdowns below for more information about specific protected characteristics and to find useful links: 

For over five decades there has been legislation around Disability. The Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 and 1958 aimed to improve the employment rights and opportunities of people with disabilities and impairments. More robust legislation was produced  under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which gave protection to persons with a disability defined under this act and covered employment, education, transport and the provision of goods, facilities, services, premises and the exercise of public functions. More recently under the Equality Act 2010 stronger protection for disabled people has been legislated for and also supports and protects people who are associated with a person who has a disability.

The Equality Act 2010 has also made the definition of disability much simpler. A person is disabled and protected from disability discrimination if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, which would include things like using a telephone, reading a book or using public transport.

An additional change is that the Equality Act 2010 extends protection to disabled people against indirect discrimination. This means that a particular rule or requirement that an employer may have in place can be claimed as disadvantageous to a person with a disability.

The Act also includes a new provision which makes it unlawful, except in special circumstances, to be asked about health questions and disability when applying for a position unless the post has been offered. An example of special circumstances could be that to do the job entailed a particular element of physical ability that the person may not be able to comply with.

Mersey Care NHS Trust is committed to equality and non discriminatory behaviour and in the area of disability it supports service users, carers and staff. Mersey Care NHS Trust is signed up to the Two Ticks Logo which requires the trust to comply with five commitments.   Membership of Mindful Employer has been taken up by Mersey Care NHS Trust and a copy of the Mindful Employer Line Managers Resource can be accessed here to help Managers support employees with mental health issues.

Useful Publications

"Making mental health service more accessible for learning disabled or autistic people"    'Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives'   The strategy for adults with autism in England (2010)

A Disability History Timeline "The struggle for equal rights though the ages"

Useful Websites

Equality Act (2010) 

The Employment (Age) regulations 2006 provided legislation which protected people of all ages who were in employment or vocational training. A Default Retirement Age (DRA) was in place which allowed employers to terminate employment of a person once they had reach the age of 65 years. An employee had the right to request a continuation of their employment but the decision was with the employer. This was overturned by the Equality Act 2010 and  people can make a choice of when to retire.

The Equality Act 2010 took the protection of Age further. Initially in October 2010 the act provided protection against ageism in employment, education and training. In April 2012 the legislation gave new protection to for older people when receiving godds and services with some exceptions.

"Unlike the other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, direct discrimination because of age can be justified if it is objectively justifiable - that is, 'a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.'  This recognises that some age-differentiated treatment is socially acceptable. However, it is unclear how this legal test will be applied by the Courts"

Useful links

The British Institute of Human Rights Guide for Older People

Description of ageism from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service

Government report: 'Banning Age Discrimination in Services'

For the relevant part of the Equality Act 2010

Read new guidance on age discrimination (ACAS, 2019)

Gender reassignment is a Protected Characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010 and has protection from any type of direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Persons who belong to the gender reassignment group are referred to as Transgender. This is a term which is used to describe the gender identity, expression or behaviour of people which would not be associated with that of their assigned sex at birth. This term may be shortened to Trans. 

The definition of sex is that of a biological one.  It is being male or female in the reproductive sense whilst gender refers to a person sense of identy as masculine or feminine and may result in it not correlating with their sex.

The term Transsexual is used to describe people who experience great discomfort with the gender of their body (not linked to sexual orientation) and the types of expression and behaviour associated with the assigned gender of their birth. This may cause an individual to undertake a transition (partially or fully) to the gender other than that assigned at birth.  This may  include personal, social and sometimes medical transition to live in the gender identity of their personal conviction.

Hate crime is particularly prevelant against the Trans Community. Hate crime is defined as “any hate incident which constitutes a criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person. This may be because of their race, transgender status, disability, religion or sexual orientation.” A hate incident is ”any incident that may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”

There are a number of Hate Crime reporting centre’s in Merseyside:

Merseyside Police

Knowsley Council

National information and guidance about hate crime is available at :


Stop Hate UK

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 provides individuals with the legal right to change gender by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate which will lead to a new birth certificate.  The conditions that the individual must meet are:

  • Have been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria
  • Have had whatever treatment which is appropriate for them to alter their sexual characteristics
  • Have lived in their acquired gender for role for two years
  • Intend to do so permanently for the remainder of their life.

A Gender Recognition Certificate does not have to be sought by an individual to be protected by the Equality Act 2010.  The Act provides protection for transsexual people who are proposing, have started or completed the process to change their gender. The Act no longer requires a person to be under medical supervision to be protected.

Mersey Care NHS Trust is committed towards Equality, Diversity and Human Rights of all the protected characteristic groups, as a a service provider and an employer and a supportive trust policy is currently in the process of finalisation.

Useful links

Acas promoting employment relations and HR Excellence

National Centre for Transgender Equality

E-bulletins from the Home Office on Transgender Issues  

Government Policy and Legislation (Home Office) 

The Equality Act 2010 has simplified the process of understanding equality legislations by bringing them all under one single piece of legislation. It also changed the term equality strands to protected characteristics.

In reference to someone belonging to race, a protected characteristic can now include colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins.

To treat anyone unfavourably based on any of the above could be seen as discrimination based on race.

To view more information about this protected characteristic the following links may be useful: 

BME resource guide in supporting people

Black Mental Health UK 

Inside Outside: Improving mental health services for Black and minority ethnic communities in England

BME Timeline describes how different races contributed to the NHS.

People Seeking Asylum

Asylum Seekers are people who are seeking refuge in the UK under the United Nation Convention (Status Of Refugees 1951).

The Equality Act 2010 does not specifically mention asylum seekers or refugees but the Protected Characteristics defined in the Act would offer protection from discrimination as applied to the individual.

The Human Rights Act 2010 offer greater protection for people seeking asylum/refugee status in the UK. 

A Guide for Mental Health and Social Care Working with people seeking asylum and refuge March 2016. This document has been produced in partnership between Liverpool PCT Community Development Workers and Mersey Care NHS Trust. It includes the clinical care pathway for people seeking Asylum.  The guide wil be updated in accordance with changes in legislation and practice and will not be offered in hard copy as it is anticipated that  changes will take place soon.

Further information can be obtained from the Liverpool Asylum Info for Churches Directory.  This directory helps people seeking asylum by signposting organisations that offer practical help, advise and expertise.  These include sections on Destitution Help and Advice, Practical Help, Support and Advice. It also provides information around practical help, advice, support and social activities for women and children seeking asylum. Praxis community projects can be found online.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is particularly prevelant among the Asian Community. Guide issued by The Race Equality Foundation entitled Forced Marriage and mental health. 

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their sex (this includes transgender)

There are four types of sex discrimination.

1. Direct which means a person is discriminated against because of their sex.

2. Indirect which means a person will be discriminated against because policies, rules, procedures may impact negatively on someone because of their sex.

3. Harassment when unwanted conduct related to sex has the effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person

4. Victimisation is when an employee has reported or supported a complaint around sex discrimination and is then treated unfairly.

All employers must comply to the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and have in place policies to promote equality and manage discrimination.

Further resources are available on the links below: 

Acas Promoting employment relations and HR excellence

Discrimination Your Rights

Under the Equality Act 2010 sexual orientation is identified as a protected characteristic. This means that sexual orientation is a legally defined group with legal protections.

For more details of the Equality Act (2010) click here

Sexual Orientation is a person's sexual orientation towards: (a) persons of the same sex, (b) persons of the opposite sex, or (c) persons of either sex.

In relation to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation:

  • (a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person who is of a particular sexual orientation
  • (b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same sexual orientation.

Mersey Care is committed to equality for all and that includes our LGBT workforce. In the past we have taken part in the annual review of Stonewalls workplace equality index and recieved permission to use the logo for 2013 for being one of the top perforrmers. For more information about Stonewall please go to

In October 2011 the trust received the Navajo Charter Award for its committment to equality for LGBT service users, carers and staff. The awards are presented on IDAHO (international day against homophobia)        

Below we have a wide range of resources and reports about different aspects of sexual orientation. This is in relation to employment, service delivery and general issues that relate to the wider LGBT community:

Five LGBT Ways to Wellbeing

Being the Gay One Experiences of Lesbian gay and bisexual people working in the health and social care sectors

Sexual Orientation and the Workplace ACAS 2005

The Double Glazed Glass Ceiling Lesbians in the Workplace

Stonewall Health Briefing Ethnicity

Stonewall Health Briefing Disability

Stonewall Health Briefing Mental Health

Stonewall Health Briefing Domestic Abuse

Stonewall Health Briefing Bisexuality

Stonewall Health Briefing Experiences of Health Care

Prescription for Change Lesbian and Bisexual womens health check 2008

Sexual Orientation A guide to the NHS

LGB needs in a caring environment   

Safe to be me

Hate Crime

Hate crime is defined as “any hate incident which constitutes a criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person. This may be because of their race, transgender status, disability, religion or sexual orientation.” A hate incident is ”any incident that may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.” 

Useful information and advice and resources can be obtained from the True Vision Website.

There are a number of Hate Crime reporting centres in Merseyside.

Merseyside Police

Knowsley Council

National information and guidance about hate crime is available at Stophate

Social Attitudes  

Beyond Tolerance: Making Sexual Orientation a public matter (2009)

Commission for equality and human rights.

A person has the protected characteristic of marriage and civil partnership if the person is married or is a civil partner.  Same sex marriages to have become law in England and Wales under new legislation on March 24th 2014. In Scotland the bill has been passed in February 2014. For more information access the following sites:

Equality Act 2010

Acas: Promoting employment relation and HR excellence

Self help from Citizens advice

Equality and Human right Commission guide

Stonewall Same sex marriage

Pregnancy and maternity are one of the nine protected characteristics identified by the Equality Act 2010.

The protection under the act is in place to prevent unfair treatment and discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity. This protection includes issues around dismisal at this time, being treated unfairly in relation to contractual benefits in work, protection around entitlements to leave and attendance at antenatal appointments.

Employers need to comply with the Act and ensure policies are in line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010

To access more information see the resources below: 

Agile Nation Factsheet

Pregnant Employees Rights

Equality Act Guidance for Employers acas

The Equality Act 2010 protects you against discrimination because you belong to an organised religion, for example:

  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Christianity
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Sikhism.

This also includes smaller religions or sects like Rastafarianism, Scientology or Paganism and religious denominations, or sects, for example Jehovah's Witnesses within Christianity, or Sunnis within Islam.

The Equality Act 2010 also protects you against discrimination because of your religious beliefs.

Religious belief refers to the beliefs within the central articles of faith for a specific religion, for example, within Christianity that Jesus is the Son of God.

Philosophical beliefs are also included; however these must be deemed as acceptable in a democratic society and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others (for example: humanism and atheism)

Useful Links - Religion and Belief:

Equality Act 2010 information specifically relating to religion and belief discrimination

Covid-19 related Information

Government guidance relating to places of worship during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Guidance relating to Muslim burials, for those who have passed away due to Covid-19

United Synagogue guidance for Jewish people

Church of England guidance relating to Covid-19 measures

Catholic Church guidance relating to Covid-19 measures

Guidance relating to the Sikh Community during Covid-19

Guidance relating to Jehovah's Witnesses during Covid-19