Read our article on equality and fairness

  • Employees are protected by the Equality Act

  • There’s a difference between equality and fairness

  • Treat employees as they want to be treated

Most people are familiar with the Equality Act 2010 or The Human Rights Act 1998, even if just in passing and every employer knows its important not to discriminate against employees for reasons of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

There have been many landmark cases in tribunal around equality, especially in terms of equal pay, and discrimination claim awards are uncapped (the largest award in 2018/19 was £416,015 and the largest ever award was a staggering £4.5 million).

But should every employee be treated equally? Should all employees who do the same role on the same salary be treated the same?

There’s a huge difference between treating people equally and treating them fairly. Absolutely people shouldn’t be discriminated against or placed at a disadvantage, they should absolutely be paid the same for the same job, have the same rights and advantages. However, every employee shouldn’t be treated the same in other ways.

Everyone is unique, they bring a unique set of skills, personalities, styles, goals, hopes and dreams. Two people may have the same role, but they may get the job done in very different ways. Employee A may work really hard to get their tasks done, take on more work and go above and beyond, while Employee B meets their quote but with minimal effort.

Treating them both “equally” may result in the loss of a great employee – Employee A will become resentful, feeling unrecognised for their effort and may well disengage or leave.

Fairness means everyone is treated appropriately and individually based on circumstances and their contribution. Do you set clear expectations for your employees and show them what kind of rewards they can get for outstanding performance? Do you make sure every employee has objectives that they are engaged with and have the chance to develop themselves? If so then you can reward and recognise individual effort and treat everyone fairly, without the risk of treating them unequally.

In addition, everyone is motivated by different things – giving everyone an “equal” reward may be a wasted effort. Take the time to get to know what motivates your employees and how they want you to say thank you for a job well done.

We’ve all heard our parents say “treat people as you would want to be treated”, but in reality its generally a better rule to treat people as THEY want to be treated, so talk to your staff, understand their aspirations and thank them the way they want to be thanked.

Do you have questions about equality and fairness?

Give us a call at CUBE HR, we’ll be happy to advise you and we have policies and templates available to meet every HR need.

Why not check out our other blog on the same topic Equality in the Workplace – 3 Things You Need to Know

You can also watch a range of other videos on our YouTube channel