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Discrimination in the workplace, 5 points for SMEs

Aside from the legal issues this can raise in the worst cases, it also risks alienating staff and causing reputational problems – as well as preventing them from recruiting and retaining the best people
Here are five guidelines that will help you avoid such situations.1. Employees and customersThe Equality Act states that you may not discriminate, directly or indirectly, against employees or customers on the grounds of gender, age, religion, marital status, race, social background, disability, pregnancy, ethnic and national origin, nationality, membership of trade unions or other worker organisations, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or any other personal characteristic. 2. Working hours Businesses may not require their employees to work more than 48 hours per week, unless they voluntarily opt out in writing. Workers must be given a minimum of one day off every seven days, on average. There is a right to annual holiday – a minimum of 28 days per year for full-time workers.3. Regular breaksThere must be a minimum break of 11 hours between finishing one working day and starting the next. Employees only have to work overtime if it is stated in their contract. If the working day is more than six hours long they must be allowed a break of at least 20 minutes.4. Child labourYou may not employ children under the age of 13. Children under 18 may not be employed for night work, or other work that could be harmful to their health or affect their education.5. RemunerationUK businesses must pay at least the National Minimum Wage (this is different for various categories of employee).You can read more about the Equality Act here, including its provisions on freedom of association, right to organise, right to a safe work environment and right to family life.
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