A recent tribunal decision found that an employee being repeatedly called a ‘good girl’ by her male boss amounted to sexual harassment.
Over a three-month period, the employee was repeatedly called a ‘good girl’ by her older male boss. The tribunal held that this behaviour amounted to sexual harassment as referring to a woman in this way was “demeaning” and used as a way to reinforce his authority over her.
Adequate training – another reminder that training on harassment needs to be robust and regularly refreshed. The tribunal found the employer’s training to be too simplistic and showed no commitment to genuinely tackling harassment. They also noted that acceptable language evolves over time meaning your training should keep pace to appropriately educate employees on what is and isn’t acceptable.
Tick-box policy – bullying, harassment and inclusivity policies must be dynamic and engaging. In this case, the tribunal specifically called out the employer’s out of date policies as simply “paper commitments to equality issues”.
Our survey – your thoughts
Aviva’s CEO was recently told by shareholders that she’s “not the man for the job” and she should be “wearing trousers”. We’d like to hear your experiences with sexual harassment and sexist comments in the workplace if you’re comfortable sharing – here’s our short survey.
Our survey is entirely anonymous and any responses gathered will only be used by us for the purposes of our continued employment law updates on this topic.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (26 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
Calling a colleague a “bald (expletive)” during an argument was found to be sex-related harassment in a recent tribunal decision.
An employee called a “bald (expletive)” by his supervisor has successfully sued his employer for sex-related harassment. The tribunal held that the “bald” insult was “inherently related to sex” – women can experience baldness, but it’s much more prevalent in men and this was sufficient to amount to sex-related harassment.
People policies – it goes without saying that ensuring you have the right policies and processes in place is the starting point – think ‘dignity and respect at work’, ‘bullying and harassment’ (we’ve got everything you need on Intelligent Employment).
Training – policies need to be trained on and communicated regularly to be effective in setting appropriate boundaries. Employees should be aware that just because something can be experienced by both males and females, tribunals (like in this case) will be willing to uphold claims for sex-related harassment if it’s more prevalent in one sex than the other. It’s also a worthwhile reminder that managers can be sued personally for harassment so training provides a great opportunity to avoid personal liability.
Zero-tolerance – harassment without consequence breeds a culture of further harassment. Even with the right policies and training an acceptance of harassment is highly likely to lead to claims and compensation. Act quickly, investigate thoroughly and deal with all harassment concerns consistently.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
As part of keeping you in our focus, our ‘legal lightbulb’ update ensures you’re on top of the latest changes in legislation, case law, and people trends.
Covid concerns and refusing to attend work
For an employee’s refusal to attend work to be considered reasonable their covid concerns must be directly related to the workplace – a tribunal held that it was fair to dismiss an employee who had ‘general concerns’ as their refusal to attend was not specific to any serious and imminent danger posed at work.
Ban on exclusivity clauses to be extended
Exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts were banned in 2015 – the clauses stopped workers from taking on additional work with other employers. The government will now extend the ban to contracts where a worker’s guaranteed weekly income is £123 or less with legislation “later this year”.
Progressive parental leave policy
Tate and Lyle PLC are rolling out a new ‘Equal Parental Leave Policy’ providing all employees with a minimum of 16 weeks’ full-paid parental leave. The policy aims to provide more flexibility and family-friendly ways of working by applying to birth, adoption, fostering, and surrogacy regardless of gender, marital status, sexual orientation or whether the employee is the birthing or non-birthing parent.
Awards for injury to feelings increased
The bands of awards (known as Vento bands) for injury to feelings have increased for cases presented on or after 06 April 2022. The new band ranges are:
Lower band – £990 to £9,900 (less serious cases)
Middle band – £9,900 to £29,600 (cases that don’t merit an upper band award)
Upper band – £29,600 to £49,300 (most serious cases)
Amounts over £49,300 can be awarded in the most exceptional cases
People diary dates
June 01-29 – Pride Month
June 14-19 – Nutrition and Hydration Week
June 27-01 July – World Wellbeing Week
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (17 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
The Menopause Workplace Pledge has seen over 600 UK employers sign up to help employees manage menopause at work. With one in 10 women likely to leave their job because of menopause symptoms, taking practical steps to support can only have a positive impact. Here are a few ideas…
Menopause policy – to proactively build a more open culture of understanding to support those affected. A great policy is just the beginning – it’s all about how you put it into practice. You’ll find our menopause policy on Intelligent Employment.
Training – did you know that 77% of businesses don’t train their line managers about menopause? Creating understanding around menopause isn’t just for those who may be affected. Training all colleagues will help normalise discussion and enable them to approach conversations with confidence.
Proactive steps – you could create menopause champions within the workplace as a first stop for those impacted, ensure any uniform is lightweight and breathable, provide portable desktop fans, or cover the cost of NHS HRT prescriptions.
Thinking flexibly – everyone’s experience will be different – think about how you can facilitate different working patterns or home-working arrangements for individuals who might be more comfortable managing symptoms at home.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg – we’d love to hear what support you have in place or what ideas you’re looking to introduce!
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (12 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
A recent tribunal decision has shown that hot-desking policies need to be carefully drafted and implemented to avoid discrimination claims.
An employee required a specialist chair, desk and equipment whilst working due to a disability. On that basis, occupational health recommended that her desk should be her own and not used as a hot desk. Desk space was at a premium so the employer decided to allow anyone to sit at the desk (and in doing so disrupting her specialist equipment). The tribunal held that the employee had been put at a substantial disadvantage by the hot-desking policy and she was successful in her claim for disability discrimination.
Reasonable adjustments – don’t forget that disabled employees put at a substantial disadvantage by a policy have the right to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The law is complicated so take early advice.
Practice into policy – clearly, this case doesn’t mean the end for hot-desking but it’s a reminder that people trends need a robust review before turning into policy.
Inclusive policies – one-size-fits-all policies without mechanisms for review and flexibility can often lead to disadvantages being suffered by those with protected characteristics and subsequent discrimination claims.
We’re adding a new ‘hot-desking’ policy to our Intelligent Employment platform this week! Find out more about accessing Intelligent Employment.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (10 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.