Partner or Employee – Discrimination Does Not Discriminate!

Where you currently fit into your business can affect the rights you have should something go awry. You might currently be a member of an LLP, a partner of a partnership or an employee, each a very different role within a business. The status you hold in your business will affect the rights you are entitled to enjoy as a result.

Employees are entitled to pursue unfair or constructive dismissal claims, provided they have worked for a sufficient period of time to acquire these rights. Other rights available to employees include a right to redundancy, flexible working and statutory maternity leave.

The law views the status of partners and members somewhat differently. Partners and members are seen to have more control over their position, having entered into a relationship that is on equal footing, as opposed to one of subordination as in the employer/employee relationship. This means that partners and members will not enjoy many of the benefits of employment, including unfair and constructive dismissal.

However, one thing that LLPs and partnerships cannot do to their members and partners is discriminate in any way against them. Under section 44 and 45 of the Equality Act 2010, a firm must not discriminate against a person on the arrangements it makes for deciding the basis upon which it offers a position of partnership, the terms on which it offers that partnership or in the way it affords a partner access to opportunities for promotion or training. The grounds on which a partner or member cannot be discriminated against include sex, religion, sexuality, disability and age.

Therefore, if you are in partnership or LLP and treat your co-partner or co-member less favourably as a result of any of the protected characteristics listed above, you will fall foul of the provisions of the Equality Act, as discrimination will not be tolerated in any walk of business life. Examples of such discrimination include expelling a partner on the basis of their age, failure to provide training to someone on the basis of a disability or not admitting a partner on the basis of their sex.

If you are in a partnership or LLP and are concerned about the consequences of the discrimination legislation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our partnership law team.