The questions procedure

If a worker thinks they may have been unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised against equality law, then they can obtain information from you to help them decide if they have a valid claim or not.

There is a set form to help them do this which you can access at: www.equalities.gov.uk, but their questions will still count even if they do not use the form, so long as they use the same questions.  This form is sometimes called a 'questionnaire'.

If you receive questions from someone, you are not legally required to reply to the request, or to answer the questions, but it may harm your case if you do not.

The questions and the answers can form part of the evidence in a case brought under the Equality Act 2010.

A worker can send you the questions before a claim is made to the Employment Tribunal, or at the same time, or after the claim has been sent.

If it is before, then you must receive the questions within three months of what the worker says was the unlawful discrimination. If a claim has already been made to the Employment Tribunal, then you must receive the questions within 28 days of the claim being sent to the Employment Tribunal.

  • Within 28 days of the claim being sent to the Employment Tribunal if the claim involves disability discrimination (including a failure to make reasonable adjustments) or
  • Within 21 days of the claim being sent to the Employment Tribunal in all other cases.

If you do not respond to the questions within eight weeks of them being sent to you, the Employment Tribunal can take that into account when making its decision. The Employment Tribunal can also take into account answers which are evasive or unclear.

  • There is an exception to this. The Employment Tribunal cannot take the failure to answer into account if a person or organisation states that to give an answer could prejudice criminal proceedings and this is reasonable. Most of the time, breaking equality law only leads to a claim in a civil tribunal or court. Occasionally, breaking equality law can be punished by the criminal courts. In that situation, the person or organisation may be able to refuse to answer the questions, if in answering they might incriminate themselves and it is reasonable for them not to answer. If you think this might apply to you, you should get more advice on what to do.

If someone who is working for you sends you questions, you must not treat them badly because they have done this. If you did, it would almost certainly be victimisation.

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