Protected Characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 broadens and strengthens existing equality legislation that has evolved over the last five decades and has extended some protections to characteristics that were not previously covered. It defines the unlawful discrimination of people based on protected characteristics.  Public bodies like the University are required by legislation to:

  1. Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as any other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act
  2. Make advances on equality of opportunity.
  3. Instil good relations between people.

Allies and Intersectionality

‘Allies’ are an important catalyst for change and ALL employees are encouraged to become allies of groups and networks to ensure that protected groups can strive for equality.  If you are interested in becoming an ally to any of the University’s networks please refer to the networks page for contact details. 

The University also acknowledges that there are many opportunities for intersectionality between people with protected characteristics and this should be used to forge alliances in the fight for equality. All individuals have multiple identities shaped by many dynamics and the intersection of those identities and other factors should be considered wherever possible.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people of all ages. The Act makes discrimination on the grounds of age in employment and education provision unlawful unless it can be objectively justified. The act does not outlaw the many instances of different treatment that are justifiable or beneficial (see Exceptions which includes things like concessions).

An objective justification is defined as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, which means that different treatment can be justifiable if there is objective evidence to support this decision. For example, refusing to offer a candidate a student facing job, like a Student Advisor, because they may be ‘too old to identify’ with students would likely be unlawful.


As of 6 April 2011 there was a change to law relating to retirement which meant that in most cases employees can now retire when they choose, rather than this being dictated by the University. It is direct age discrimination to persuade or request a member of staff to retire based on their age unless it can be objectively justified.



The University welcomes students, staff and visitors regardless of disability and will make reasonable adjustments to help people overcome disadvantage resulting from disability. The University is keen to hear feedback on accessibility issues around the campus. If you experience an issue with physical access anywhere on campus, please email where a member of the Estates staff will be able to help you or  you can contact the Helpdesk by phone on 020 8392 6000 Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm. The University provides accessible toilets and facilities in a number of its buildings and is working towards more inclusivity. As a step towards this the University is looking at listing itself as a destination on the Disabled Go web-site ( which provides a detailed access guide for visitors.

The Equality Act 2010 has made it easier for a person to show that they have a disability and are protected from disability discrimination. A person with disability refers to someone who: a) has a physical or mental impairment; b) has an impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. At the University people with disability are protected from discrimination, harassment or victimisation for past or present disabilities. This may be particularly relevant for people with fluctuating and/or reoccurring impairments. 

Day-to-day activities are not defined in the Act, but in general they are things people do on a regular or daily basis, for example eating, washing, walking, reading, writing or having a conversation.

The University has responsibilities to protect staff and students from direct and indirect discrimination arising from disability. The University prohibits discrimination arising from disability and has a Disabled Policy and Dignity and Respect Policy to address this. The only exemption to this type of discrimination is if it can be shown that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. 

The University is a Disability Confident Employer (Level 2) and is striving to become a Disability Confident Leader (Level 3) aiming to close the employment gap between people with and without disability. 

The University is also keen to raise awareness of the issues facing people with disability. In June 2018 the University will be holding Inclusive Practice and Disability Awareness Workshops for all staff. 

Types of disability

There are many types of disability including conditions such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorders (including Asperger Syndrome)
  • Communication difficulties (e.g. Stammering)
  • Epilepsy and other neurological conditions
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia and dyspraxia)
  • Mental Health (e.g. depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder)
  • Physical Impairments (e.g. amputations, cerebral palsy, injuries, muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis)
  • Visual Impairments

Telling the University 

The University seeks to create an environment and culture where individuals feel comfortable about disclosing a disability. Though there is no obligation to disclose, people are encouraged to do so in order to enable the University to support you, and if necessary, make reasonable adjustments.  If you have a disability or suspect a disability please speak to your manager in the first instance. If this is not possible, please contact your HR Representative. Staff are also encouraged to update their sensitive information in HR self-service to help the University support staff and provide accurate data for monitoring and reporting purposes. For Disability Services for staff and students at the University please see this link. The University is working towards improving its disability inclusion. The University will treat any disclosure of disability in strict confidence, sensitivity and in accordance with the Data Protection Legislation.

It should be noted also that the University has health and safety provisions for people with disability in the event of an emergency (see Fire Safety Policy for information on personal emergency evacuation plans (‘PEEPs’)). By telling the University we can put appropriate provisions in place for staff, students and visitors with disabilities. These considerations should also be extended to people who have temporary disabilities (e.g. a broken leg). Such arrangements should be made ideally before a person with a disability arrives at the University.

The University is supported by an occupational health service run externally by Nuffield Health. Either HR or a manager can refer staff to Occupational Health for professional advice and support regarding disability and reasonable adjustments to support staff in the workplace. 

The University also has in place an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), in association with WORKPLACE OPTIONS, which is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year and provides immediate access to free and confidential support from impartial specialists. 

The EAP is available by telephone, email and is also online at  or email and further details are available on the HR Staff Portal pages. 

Managers at the University 

Managers have a duty of care to members of staff and must take reasonable steps to ensure the wellbeing of staff with disabilities is not compromised. It is acknowledged that having conversations with members of staff with particular conditions such as Cancer, HIV or multiple sclerosis can be difficult. Communication is key.  It is much better to try to have challenging conversations early on so that reasonable adjustments can be made. Examples of reasonable adjustments may include an adjustment to working hours or ensuring staff have assistive technologies to help staff use computers. Managers are encouraged to refer to Disability Policy for more information. 

Telling friends and colleagues at the University 

Members of staff with progressive conditions such as HIV, Cancer or MS should consider telling colleagues about their disability. Telling colleagues will help them understand why a member of staff is away from work or not able to do particular duties. It also enables other members of staff to understand a condition and provide any necessary support. An employee can discuss telling colleagues with their line manager and get their support in sharing the information in a sensitive way. 

It should be noted that sharing information about someone's health without their consent is a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. Managers should ensure confidentially is appropriately maintained.

Reasonable adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 places a duty upon the University to make reasonable adjustments for staff, students and service users with a disability. These adjustments apply where a person with disability is placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to a person without disability. 

The Equality Act 2010, and thus the University, makes it permissible to treat a person with disability more favourably than someone who does not have a disability. 

Examples of reasonable adjustments could include the following:

  1. Providing additional time for disabled students taking examinations.
  2. Making documents available in a particular formats (e.g. reformatting a document to make the fonts larger).
  3. Making available a specialist telephone to support a blind staff member in carrying out their duties.
  4. Providing a ramp and having wider access routes (including open-access or assisted doors) to make a building accessible to visitors.
  5. Offering a book retrieval service to students who cannot access the Library shelves. (For more information on the library services provided for users with disabilities please click this link).
  6. Rearranging an office, providing suitable furniture and software.

There are a wide range of possible adjustments depending on the specific needs of the individual and the context. The adjustment(s) should help a person with disability overcome the disadvantage potentially or actually posed to them. A person with disability is not expected to pay for the costs of a reasonable adjustment.

What is ‘reasonable’ is a matter of context and depends on a range of factors including the cost of the adjustment, the resources available to accommodate the adjustment, the number of likely beneficiaries, the protection of listed buildings and the availability of space.

Access to Work may also be able to provide support in helping a member of staff carry on in their role by providing a grant to help with special equipment, adaptations or support worker services or help getting to and from work.


The University has proud history of being one of the founding institutions to admit women through its doors. A legacy that continues today and is marked by the dominance of females in its population, both students and staff. There is of course still more to do and the university is committed to narrowing the Gender-Pay Gap and ensuring that students and staff can reach their potential. 

Protection from sex discrimination is well established within legislation and the University. The terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are sometimes used interchangeable to mean ‘male’ or ‘female’. In this context ‘sex’ refers to the biology assigned at birth. See Transgender for more information on gender.

Gender is often been expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth. Someone’s sex assigned at birth may not align with their gender identity: a person’s innate sense of their own gender. A person who does not conform to societal expectations of gender may or may not identify as Trans (see Transgender). 

The University is currently gearing up for Athena Swan accreditation in recognition of the University’s commitment to advancing careers of women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) employment in higher education.  See Athena Swan Charter for more information.

Women’s Equality at Roehampton since 1841

When Roehampton’s Whitelands College was founded (circa 1841), 12 young women embarked on training to become teachers at a time when it was uncommon for women to go on to further education. These pioneering women and successive students helped to shape the teaching landscape in schools today. The University, which now encompasses four colleges including Whitelands College, is now the longest running provider of education for women in the UK. The University wishes to continue its work on gender equality and to be a force for change in the higher education sector.


The Equality Act protects members of staff who are married or who are in civil partnership against discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation. People who are not married or who are not in a civil partnership are not protected.

For general information: ACAS


At the University, people are protected against discrimination in employment, education and in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity during pregnancy and are entitled any statutory leave as per the Equality Act 2010. Pregnancy refers to individuals who are pregnant and maternity refers to the period of 26 weeks post-birth.

An applicant who wishes to study or work at the University should not be excluded from admittance because they are pregnant or have recently given birth. Similarly, a person who is pregnant should not be demoted, dismissed or overlooked during training or promotion because of pregnancy.

A member of staff’s period of absences due to pregnancy-related illness must not be taken into account when making a decision about an individual’s employment.

Breastfeeding is now explicitly protected and should be brought to the attention of members of staff particularly those in catering outlets, for example. It would be discriminatory to request someone to leave a University premise, such as a catering outlet, because they are breastfeeding a baby.

Members of the staff should consult the HR pages for more information on policies and procedures. Otherwise refer to the policies below for more information:

Students seeking information regarding student pregnancy, maternity paternity and infant care should consult here


The University of Roehampton welcomes a community of students and members of staff from over 141 countries around the world. It is this community that makes and shapes Roehampton. These people bring a rich set of knowledge and experiences which contribute to the Roehampton community in a multitude of ways. 

Race is a protected characteristic and refers to an individual’s race, colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. Examples are included below:

 Colour includes, for example being black, brown or white

 Nationality includes, for example, being a British, Nigerian, Indian, Chinese etc.

 Ethnic or national origins include, for example, being a Gypsy or Irish Traveller 

 A racial group refers to, for example, ‘Jamaican Britons’

The University prohibits the discrimination, harassment or victimisation of students, staff, or visitors to the University because of their race. This includes the actual, perceived or associated race of an individual. This includes the exclusion or segregation of individuals based on their race.

The University’s work in this area continues to grow and develop with the University most recently going for the Race Equality Charter Award (see Race Equality Charter). 

The University has two race-related equality networks, they are the BAME Network and the European Union Network

For racial hatred legislation see the Equality Challenge Unit.


Sexual orientation is a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person and this characteristic is protected by Equality Law. The University explicitly bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, this includes a ban on bi-phobia and homo-phobia and takes a zero tolerance to bi- or homophobic bullying which could ultimately lead to dismissal. 

The University is a proud Stonewall Diversity Champion and each year takes part in the Workplace Equality Index (See Stonewall Workplace Equality Index). Support is provided to LGBT+ staff through the UR Pride Network (see UR Pride Network). The UR Pride Network is working to promote LGBT Equality and a positive working environment for LGBT+ staff.


Religion and belief are protected characteristics by legislation and the University. Religion or belief should be taken to mean the full diversity of religious and belief affiliations within the UK, including non-religious and philosophical beliefs such as atheism, agnosticism and humanism. Discrimination because of religion or belief can occur even where both the discriminator and recipient are of the same religion or belief.

It should also be noted that not all philosophical beliefs qualify for protection under the Equality Act 2010. For example beliefs that do not substantially affect human life, beliefs that are transitory or beliefs that do not conform to democratic society do not qualify. For example beliefs that conflict with the fundamental rights of others, are not protected.

Chaplaincy and Facilities

At the university we are a diverse community, made up of people from all faiths and none, coming together to share our journey’s through living, studying and working together. To reflect this we offer a multi-faith chaplaincy with chaplains, associate chaplains, chaplaincy community workers and faith supporters from a number of faith traditions. We celebrate the diversity of our university by serving the religious and spiritual needs of our staff and students and by promoting dialogue and peaceful co-existence to all members of the community and beyond.

The Roehampton Chaplaincy contributes to the mission of the university, and that of the four providing bodies, by providing opportunities for all staff and students to practice, be supported in, and explore belief.  

The university has a number of facilities that are available for worship, celebration or meditation across campus. For more information on Roehampton’s Chaplaincy see here

The University also has a Chaplaincy Management Group. The Chaplaincy Management Group is the reporting body for the Chaplaincy into the wider university structures. The group aims to monitor, oversee and develop the work of the multi-faith chaplaincy team at Roehampton.

The Foundations of the Colleges

The University’s four colleges were all founded differently and have their own stories. For more information on each of the colleges click on the links below:

Digby Stuart College – Roman Catholic: The Society of the Sacred Heart

Erasmus House, Roehampton Lane, 

London, SW15 5PU, UK.

T: +44 (0)20 8392 3217


Froebel College – Non-denominational: Incorporated Froebel Educations Institute, now the Froebel Trust

Grove House, Roehampton Lane, 

London, SW15 5PJ, UK.

T: +44 (0)20 8392 3300


Southlands College – Methodist: Methodist Church in Britain, now the Methodist Trust

80 Roehampton Lane, 

London, SW15 5SL, UK.

T: +44 (0)20 8392 3400


Whitelands College – Anglican: The Archbishops’ Council

Holybourne Avenue, 

London, SW15 4JD, UK.

T: +44 (0)20 8392 3500


The University protects Trans staff, students and visitors who propose to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone a process (or part of a process) of affirming their gender (the Equality Act refers to this as ‘gender reassignment’). A person does not have to be under medical supervision to be protected from discrimination, harassment or victimisation. It can also mean changing names, pronouns, dressing differently and living in their self-identified gender. 

The term ‘gender reassignment’ is of much contention and one which many feel should be reviewed. Transgender, or the umbrella term ‘trans’, are terms to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including for example Transgender, Transsexual, Gender-fluid, non-binary, Trans man and Trans woman etc. For further definitions please consult the Stonewall website for a glossary of terms.

The University adopts a culture of inclusivity and explicitly bans transphobic behaviour. This includes the denial/refusal to accept a person’s gender identity. If you are suspected or and guilty of being transphobic this may lead to discipline or dismissal.

In partnership with Stonewall, Athena Swan and the University’s LGBT Staff Network, UR Pride, the University is making great strides to ensure Trans equality at the University. The University is targeting to have a Transgender Policy ready by the end of 2018 to supplement its Transgender Guidance.

There is limited data on the number of transgendered people working or studying in the University and the University is trying to address this by improved monitoring methods. It is believed that there are likely to be more transgendered people in higher education sector than in the population at large. 

Gender Recognition 

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows people to apply to the gender recognition panel for legal recognition of their acquired gender. Applicants who meet the requirements of the Act will be issued with a gender recognition certificate which enables Trans people to be legally recognised in their affirmed gender and enable Trans people to gain a new birth certificate issued with their affirmed gender. Not all Trans people apply for GRCs and you can only apply for one when you are over 18.  You do not have to have a GRC to change your gender markers at the University or to legally change your gender on other documents such as your passport. 

Guidance and support

Guidance and support is provided to Trans staff through the UR Pride Network. To subscribe the UR Pride Network mail list send an email to

Equality Challenge Unit - For further guidance for Trans staff and students in Higher Education