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LGBT Issues
Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999

In 1999, following a European Court of Justice ruling, measures were introduce to protect transsexual workers against discrimination at work.

On this page:

How is "discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment" defined?
What protection is available to transsexual workers?
Who is protected by this legislation?
Are there any exceptions?
How is this legislation enforced?
Where can I get more information about this legislation?

How is "discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment" defined?

It is unlawful to discriminate against a person for the purpose of employment or vocational training on the ground that that person intends to undergo gender reassignment, or is undergoing gender reassignment, or has at some time in the past undergone gender reassignment. This ensures that the various stages of the gender reassignment process, including the very initial stage, where an individual indicates an intention to commence gender reassignment, are covered by the Regulations. It is not necessary for all three circumstances to apply for discrimination to have taken place.

Unfavourable treatment means treating a person less favourably on gender reassignment grounds than you treat, or would treat, a person for whom no gender reassignment grounds exist. This will also apply to recruitment, unless a Genuine Occupational Qualification exists.

What protection is available to transsexual workers?

The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 extended the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender reassignment, but only in the areas of employment and vocational training. Unlike the Sex Discrimination Act, these Regulations do not apply to discrimination in education or in the provision of housing, goods, facilities and services.

In employment and vocational training, the Regualtions protect individuals who are discriminated against or harassed because they:

  • intend to undergo gender reassignment

  • are currently undergoing gender reassignment

  • have already undergone gender reassignment

    Anyone who is treated less favourably by an employer or vocational training body on any of these grounds compared with someone for whom no gender reassignment grounds exist will have a claim under the Sex Discrimination Act.

    Who is protected by this legislation?

    The legislation covers a broad range of workers, including contract workers, and also:

  • covers people who are applying for jobs or vocational training

  • applies regardless of service in employment and regardless of the number of hours worked

    Employers must not dicrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment:

  • at the recruitment stage - this covers the arrangements made for filling a vacancy, and in deciding who should have the job

  • during employment - this covers equal treatment in promotion, training, transfer, and access *to employment related benefits, including pay, and entitles you to a working environment free from harassment on the grounds of gender reassignment

  • when ending your employment - this covers dismissal and selection for redundancy

    There must be no unlawful discrimination against transsexual people who apply for vocational training provided by employers or training organisations, including the Training and Enterprise Councils and their suppliers (in Scotland, the Local Enterprise Companies). There must be no unlawful discrimination against you by such bodies in terminating your training. This means equal access to training on equal terms - and an equal chance to complete it.

    Are there any exceptions?

    There are still some occasions where discrimination can occur and not be deemed unlawful. This is the case when:

  • a person's sex is a Genuine Occupational Qualification (GOQ) for that job

  • the job involves the holder conducting intimate searches pursuant to statutory powers (e.g. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act)

  • the job involves the holder working in a private home and reasonable objection can be shown by the employer because of the intimate contact in those circumstances

    There are a limited number of exceptions that apply only during when the individual is undergoing the gender reassignment process. This can be the case where:

  • where individuals have to share accommodation, and it is not reasonable on privacy or decency grounds for an individual to do so with either sex while in the process of undergoing gender reassignment (for example, work on board a ship where private facilities are not provided). In such a case, an employer must be able to show that it would not be reasonable to expect him or her to provide alternative accommodation for an individual undergoing gender reassignment

    An employer cannot claim that a GOQ applies if there are enough other members of staff of the appropriate sex to cover the duties in question.

    How is this legislation enforced?

    These Regulations allow people transsexual people to take a case to an employment tribunal. If the case is successful, they will be awarded compensation for any financial loss suffered; an award for injury to feelings can also be made.

    Complaints to employment tribunals must be submitted within three months of the act of discrimination and within six months to sheriff courts.

    The Equal Opportunities Commission is able to give advice on issues around discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment.

    Where can I get more information about this legislation?

    There are a number of sources of information about this legislation. Click on the links below.

    A guide to the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999
    Useful guide to the legislation produced by the Department for Education and Employment (April 1999)

    Problems At Work?
    The Press For Change guide to pursuing a claim for discrimination on the grounds you are intending to undergo, undergoing or have undergone Gender Reassignment.

    Transsexualism: frequently asked questions
    Useful information with different scenarios covering discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment

    Transsexualism: case decisions
    Information detailing Employment Tribunal decisions

    Beyond Barriers (UK) accept no responsibility for the content of external sites.


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