Equality and Diversity Considerations

Personal Assistant (PA) employers need to treat their PAs fairly, without discrimination on the basis of a personal or ‘Protected Characteristic’, such as their sex, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity or martial status.

Employers have a legal duty not to discriminate before, during and after employment, according to the law (the Equality Act 2010).

The Equality Act

The Equality Act 2010 came into effect to protect people from harassment, discrimination and victimisation. There are nine protected characteristics covered within the Equality Act which protect people from being discriminated against. The protected characteristics are:

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

This means that discrimination under any of these characteristics could result in a claim being made against the PA Employer. There is no minimum length of service required for workers to be able to bring a claim for unlawful discrimination. For the employer, a claim for discrimination can be made in respect of a job advert, during employment, or post employment (for example in a reference given for a former employee).

Therefore, as an employer, it is important to understand the importance of equality in the workplace before employing someone.

In some circumstances, it will be lawful to require that a person possesses a particular protected characteristic in order to do a particular kind of work, for example advertising for female-only candidates to be a PA. But certain conditions have to be satisfied first to ensure this is done legally – you should always take advice on this.

When interviewing potential candidates, it is important to ensure the candidate is not asked any questions which could be seen as discrimination or which relate to their protected characteristics. In particular, it may be unlawful to ask questions about disability or health during a recruitment process or until a formal job offer has been made, unless the question is to establish whether reasonable adjustments are required for the interview.


Next steps

Take a look at the resources available below to guide you in more detail.

Part of
Last Updated
11 January 2024
First Published
28 March 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.