Hiring UK Employees: What is considered a disability in equality legislation?

If you are thinking of entering the UK market, it is likely you will have some questions about hiring employees in the UK. All employees in the UK are protected by the Equality Act 2010. The act protects those with a disability from suffering detrimental treatment in the recruitment process, and in the course of their employment, as a result of their disability. However, not all disabilities are obvious and so it is important for employers to understand what amounts to a disability under the law, to ensure you are compliant with your obligations under the Equality Act 2010. This post looks at some of the things you might not be aware of in relation to employees with a disability.

What amounts to a disability under the law? 

Under the Equality Act, a disability is described as being a mental or physical impairment which has a “substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. Employers do not need to establish what the cause of the impairment is, or even categorise the impairment as physical or mental. Many disabilities cause both physical and mental impairment. Similarly, disabilities do not need to be apparent for the applicant or employee to qualify for protection under the Equality Act.

However, a disability must be long-term to qualify the candidate for such protection. Long-term is defined as lasting for one year or more, and likely to last the rest of the person’s life, or to reoccur. A disability does not have to be continually present to qualify, and may change in severity periodically.

There are exceptions for certain people on having to show a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This applies specifically to those who have cancer, HIV, or multiple sclerosis. The Equality Act details that a person with any of these conditions is considered to have a disability from the day they are diagnosed. Furthermore, where a consultant ophthalmologist has certified a person as blind, severely sight-impaired, or partially sighted, the Equality Act defines that person as being disabled.

As you can see, discrimination and equality law can be complex, so it is always best to seek advice and assistance on matters that affect you. At Goodwille, we have several specialists with extensive HR experience who can advice you on equality legislation and any other issues or questions you may have regarding employees in the UK. Get in touch with us today for more information.

Does discrimination employment law apply to recruitment in the UK?

If you are considering setting up a UK company, you might have some questions about UK law and recruitment. Whilst you might have some grasp of your legal obligations after you have taken on employees, it can be difficult to navigate what is required before the employment relationship is established. This post looks at some things recruiters should consider when setting up a UK company.

What is considered discrimination in recruitment? 

If you set up a company in the UK, your business has a responsibility to make sure that no unlawful discrimination takes place during the recruitment process. Unlawful discrimination means negative treatment of a candidate on the grounds of disability, age, gender reassignment, maternity and/or pregnancy, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief and sex or sexual orientation.

Can I refuse to give an interview on the grounds of a protected characteristic? 

No. Although the candidate may have simply given a CV or contacted you about the job, it is unlawful not to consider them for the job simply on the grounds of one of the protected characteristics listed above. You may, of course, refuse candidates with a protected characteristics if they are not suitable for the job, for example, if they do not have the qualifications or skills required.

Can I ask questions about a protected characteristic in an interview? 

Generally, you may not ask about protected characteristics in an interview. For example, you may not ask whether a candidate is married, has children or whether they plan to have children. You may, however, ask about a health condition or disability where there are job requirements that cannot be met by the candidate unless you make reasonable adjustment to the workplace or working practices, you are taking positive steps to recruit someone with a disability, or where you need to find out if the candidate needs assistance to attend another stage of the selection process.

What can I do if I am unsure? 

Goodwille has assisted hundreds of companies all over the world in understanding the law and recruitment practices of the countries we operate in. Contact us today to discover how we can help you.

We’re recruiting – HR Advisor


Goodwille is a forward-thinking, ambitious company dedicated to providing foreign businesses with the kind of professional services required to establish themselves and flourish in the UK. These include Corporate Legal, Finance, People Management, Payroll & Virtual Offices.

We are looking for a HR Advisor to provide our extensive international client base with a full spectrum of high quality and compliant UK employment law. Within your role you will be responsible for:

  • Delivering HR advice to clients directly and through colleagues
  • Acting as the HR advisor to some of Europe’s most exciting start-ups
  • Drafting & reviewing HR documentation and agreements
  • Covering HR issues including employee relations, organisation design, policies, procedures, implementation of contracts, benefits, benchmarking, recruitment & training solutions.
  • Ensuring quality standards & SLA’s are met
  • Supporting departments with adhoc requests

The applicant should be experienced working as part of a HR department, either as part of an inhouse team or outsourced advisor. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of, and involved in developing and expanding the offering of Goodwilles newest department.

Reporting to the HR Manager you will be expected to confidently provide HR advice independently, whilst covering for the HR Manager as required. Although an international language is not mandatory, being able to speak a Nordic language would be beneficial. In joining us, you will become part of a close-knit and growing HR team, and part of a modern, forward-thinking and inclusive organisation, capable of offering a stimulating environment for you to work in.

This is your chance to join #teamgoodwille – check us out on Instagram. When you join Goodwille you get access to a whole range of employee benefits, all designed to ensure an enjoyable work/life balance. Some benefits for all employees include:

  • Office fruit every week
  • Employee perks, rewards & benefits including discounts on supermarkets (Sainsburys, Tesco etc) high street stores (Topshop, John Lewis etc) & gyms.
  • Complimentary phone insurance, as we know how important it is to stay connected
  • Access to the well-being & lifestyle platform, including eating advice, exercise routines and yoga videos
  • Generous social budget, for team lunches, parties or for you to hang out with colleagues.
  • Yoga (London only by colleague)

Job type: Permanent, full time
Location: Kensington, West London
Salary: Depending on experience/skill set

If you like the sound of this vacancy and all the features and benefits you get by being part of a team like Goodwille, then please contact jacqui.brown@goodwille.com

Meet Jacqui Brown

Jacqui Brown is a Senior HR Advisor here at Goodwille, who is working on supporting and growing our HR department. For the past six years
Goodwille have provided in-house specialist HR advice and support services to UK businesses, and foreign businesses looking to expand into the UK. Jacqui previously worked in the HR department of a large Financial Services & International Management consultancy – we thought it would be good for you to know her better.

Jacqui spared us 60 seconds, so we could find out what’s hot and what’s not, whilst getting some interview advice from a sector specialist:

1) Any advice from a previous boss that sticks with you?
Never walk out of a door that you know you can’t walk back through again.

2) What did you want to be when you grew up?
Hmm, when I was very young (pre discovering I had two left feet), I wanted to be a dancer. I had a good imagination!

3) Tell us a fact about you!
I played the role of Oliver in a school play – the part of a little boy when I was 17……

4) Something someone said in an interview that’s made you cringe?
Nothing in particular that stands out, aside from whenever the terms ‘reaching out’ are used…that is always cringe worthy. I find it more irritating when someone has not done their research, they give a blanket statement that they think the company looks really ‘good’ or ‘interesting’, yet cannot tell you anything about what they know when asked. It is uncomfortable for both the interviewer and interviewee when the applicant cannot think of an answer to a question. Also ranting about a previous company and how horrific it is can also be a little uncomfortable!

5) Your favourite all time film?
It very much depends on my mood….tricky one! I’ll say my favourite film today is Amelie.

6) Something that you hate
Butter and margarine (and parsnips)!

7) What is an absolute not to do in an interview?
• Don’t fail to prepare! Know about the Company – LinkedIn, Company websites etc are great sources of information, think about how your experience links.
• Don’t dress inappropriately, dress in relation to the Industry of the Company you are meeting
• Don’t stress too much, this can lead to poor communication skills (both failure to speak and on the flipside, over communicating (rambling))! Try to enjoy the meeting, remember you want to make a positive impression on the person you are meeting.
• Don’t answer your phone/handle your phone during the interview. Pop it safely in your bag or pocket (on silent)!
• Don’t bad mouth your past colleagues/Company
• Don’t omit to listen to the question – make sure you are answering the correct question!

8) Finally, Rock or Pop?

The HR department at Goodwille can act as a fully outsourced HR function, making sure you are up-to-date with best practice HR. Our knowledge and experience, particularly in helping overseas companies understand the complications of UK employment law, has been crucial to businesses setting up here. Our services include:

• Drawing up contracts of employment / appraisals / reviews
• Reference checking / training
• Salary benchmarking and benefits advice
• Payroll and expenses administration
• Legislation in multiple jurisdictions
• UK secondment agreements and applications
• UK PAYE and National Insurance compliance
• Pensions and benefits schemes
• Administration of corporate and personal taxation
• Liaising with tax authorities / Annual declarations
• Car leasing, mobile phone contracts and any other support you need

Please contact us to talk about any current arrangements which you have in place which will be affected – Anni or Jacqui in our HR Team: hr.support@goodwille.com