Unlike some other areas of employment law, there is no qualifying period for the protection from discrimination. Not only is discrimination unlawful from the very first day in employment, protection starts from the moment a person applies for a job.
A job advert demanding 15 years’ experience is likely to be considered age discrimination because people in their twenties and early thirties would not have the length of experience demanded despite being well qualified in all other respects for a post.
Employers are prevented from asking questions about health or disability before offering applicants a position. This protection was to allow disabled employees to have their suitability for a position considered before being required to reveal their disability. Questions may be asked about any adjustments which may need to be made to the interview process for disabled applicants.
A woman who is rejected for a job on the basis that she has young children and may need time off when they are ill would be covered by the Equality Act under the protected characteristic of sex. This is because women are statistically more likely to have childcare responsibilities and therefore any provision which takes account of childcare difficulties is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on women when compared to men.