Businesses need to make choices when recruiting staff and when choosing staff for training or promotion opportunities. Choosing one potential candidate over another is referred to as discrimination. If, for example, an equally qualified man and woman are interviewed for a job and the man is chosen, the business has discriminated in favour of the man.
There are legal and illegal types of discrimination. It’s considered reasonable and legal if a business chooses a candidate with ten years of relevant experience for a position rather than a school leaver. It is, however, illegal in the UK for an experienced person to not get the job because they were female or from an ethnic minority. Discrimination not only occurs in the selection process but also in areas of training, promotion and wages.
Equal opportunities, on the other hand, mean that everybody is presented and afforded the same chances. UK legislation and EU law help to promote the idea that candidates or employees are not discriminated against because of their age, sex, race, religion or sexual orientation. These are examples of individual labour laws that are aimed at protecting individuals at work. Collective labour laws, however, deal with legislation that affects employee groups such as trade unions.