Positive action in the workplace: guidance for employers

Guidance for employers who want to use positive action to widen opportunities in a way that is consistent with equalities legislation.



This guidance explains how employers who choose to use positive action can help people who share a particular protected characteristic to overcome certain barriers under the measures. However, employers need to ensure they do this in a way which does not unfairly disadvantage other groups as this could amount to ‘positive discrimination’, which is unlawful.

The positive action measures in the Equality Act 2010 allows employers to take proportionate action that aims to reduce disadvantage, meet different needs and increase participation.

Positive action in employment can be used in 2 main ways – to improve equality of opportunity and within specified ways to recruit or promote candidates.

If employers want to use positive action, they should consider and make a record of the following:

  • What evidence is available to show that action is needed?
  • What are the main goals and what action/s can be used to meet these aims?
  • Is the action proportionate and reasonable?
  • How will progress and success be measured?
  • How will staff be consulted?
  • How long will these measures be needed and when will they be reviewed?

This guidance has been published in response to action 70 from Inclusive Britain.

Published 17 April 2023