Creating a fairer Britain
Your employer must offer opportunities for promotion, transfer or other career development without unlawful discrimination.
This includes development opportunities that could lead to permanent promotion – for example, ‘acting up’ on temporary promotion, deputising or secondment.
Use the information earlier in this guide to make sure you know what equality law says your employer must do to avoid unlawful discrimination.
Promoting or transferring a worker is very similar to recruiting them in the first place. If you want to know more about this, read the Equality and Human Rights Commission guide: Your rights to equality at work: when you apply for a job.
There are steps your employer can take to help them make sure they are not taking your protected characteristics into account in a way that equality law does not allow.
Although equality law does not require an employer to advertise vacancies or opportunities for promotion either inside or outside their organisation, doing this may help your employer avoid unlawful discrimination.
An employer promotes a male worker to a post without advertising the vacancy internally. There are female workers who are qualified for the role and would have applied if they had known about it. They have missed out on an opportunity and if they can show either that the employer ignored them just because they were female (which would be direct discrimination) or applied a requirement to the role which had a worse impact on the female workers and which the employer could not objectively justify and this was why the employer did not consider them (which would be indirect discrimination), then the employer may find themselves facing a tribunal claim.
Your employer must not deny you promotion opportunities because you are a woman who is pregnant or on maternity leave. If you are on maternity leave, you must be considered for promotion in the same way as any other worker who is not on leave.
To avoid unlawful discrimination, your employer should tell you about promotion opportunities when you are on maternity leave, and give you the opportunity to apply for any promotion you would have been told about had you been at work.
Your employer should avoid making assumptions about women when promoting people. Acting on an assumption that a woman with children will be unreliable, inflexible or not interested in a demanding role, and therefore unsuitable for promotion, would almost certainly be unlawful direct discrimination because of sex.