This is a very controversial subject matter and it may take a few reads to be able to fully understand how it is lawful to discriminate against other workers.

Firstly, lets look at protected characteristics. Most of us know that you cannot discriminate against someone who has a characteristic that is  protected under the Equality Act 2010. This could be: religion, belief (inc. Veganism) , age, disability, gender reassignment, sex, sexual orientation, marriage, civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity.

However, a genuine occupational qualification is used in the context of discrimination of the above protected characteristics, where an employer is allowed to discriminate in recruitment, transfers or training, if the employer can prove that a genuine occupational requirements exists.

Therefore, the nature of the role makes it unsuitable for individuals with particular characteristics to apply and work in the role. For example, someone working in a military defence role, where the nature of a job requires it to be carried out by a particular sex, ie jobs that may involve physical contact and issues where the consumer’s/patients dignity and privacy need to be preserved.
This would also be the case if an Indian restaurant. The restaurant may wish to employ individuals that were Indian in order to maintain the authenticity of the restaurant; or for a vegan workplace, needing to employ vegans to represent the vegan business in the marketplace.
The employer has the burden of proving there was a need to discriminate against others. The characteristics for discrimination must be genuine and a determining requirement of the job itself.
If you want any further advice before taking this step please contact me, Tania De Bruler (HR Consultant), 01905 317537 and