Depending on the level and nature of the care that you or a loved one requires, you may find that you are more comfortable having a carer of the same gender carry out the role. This is not an uncommon feeling, especially when their role involved personal care such as dressing and bathing.

However, research by the Live-in Care Hub, who provide care services to thousands of families, suggests that many are confused about whether or not they have the right to specify the gender of the carer that they use. Is it illegal to discriminate against certain carers based purely on their gender or do you have the right to only seek care and assistance off carers of the same gender as their client?

Your legal rights and responsibilities

The main piece of legislation which you need to be concerned about when considering specifying the gender of your carer is The Equality Act (2010). Section 39 of this act states that employment must be offered equally to both men and women and denying one gender roles in employment based solely on their sex could see your breaking employment law.

However, the Equality Act (2010) was written with more traditional jobs in mind and is quite a broad piece of legislation. There are exceptions to some parts of the legislation, if you can prove that you have a genuine reason for discriminating against one gender or the other.

Exceptions to the rule

In order to be able to specify the gender of your carer and avoid repercussions via the Equality Act (2010) then you must be able to prove that you have a legitimate reason for discriminating against one gender. If you are wanting to limit applications from carers to a specific gender then you must be able to provide a reason for the limitation and prove that the limitation is an “occupational requirement”. You also must be able to prove that the restriction on the specific gender is proportionate.

For example, it is reasonable that a gender restriction to carers of your own gender would be considered proportionate if part of the carer’s responsibilities was to provide personal care such as bathing. As this would be described as an occupational requirement in their role as your carer, then it would be likely that you would be proportionately discriminating against the opposite gender.

If you were employing a care in a domiciliary role and they were performing general domestic duties then it may not be seen as proportionate to specify a gender of your carer to perform these kinds of tasks. Again however, there are exceptions such as if the client is a sexual abuse survivor who is struggling to be around members of the opposite sex.

Specifying genders in caring roles is a slightly grey area and there are no hard and fast rules as individual circumstances are taken into account. If you are considering a live-in carer then it may be considered proportionate to specify a preferential gender even if they are not going to be carrying out any personal care as they are going to be living in your home. Speak to your social care team or care provider if you have any carer preferences and they will work with you to ensure that you are happy with your carer.