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Archive

Discrimination

Party snub was maternity discrimination

Posted on: October 18th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

You might not be ready to think about Christmas just yet, but with parties being booked, this case is a useful reminder of the importance of inclusivity.

Background 

The claimant was not invited to a Christmas party organised by her employer whilst she was on maternity leave. The employer stated that it did not occur to them to invite her as ‘it was not a proper party’. The employer had also failed to keep her up to date with the financial situation of the business which had led to her role being made redundant (which the employee was only informed of when planning her return from maternity leave).

The tribunal held she had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against because she’d been treated unfavourably whilst on maternity leave.

Practical takeaway 

Communication is key – out of sight must not mean out of mind. It may not be the intention to exclude anyone from social events, but ensuring that everyone (including those on maternity leave) is kept in the loop and given the option to accept or decline will remove the risk of potential discrimination arguments.

Proactive plan – before an employee goes on maternity leave agree how they’d like you to stay in touch, be it email, calls, or text, and how frequently they’d like to hear from you (as and when things come up, or weekly / monthly updates, for example).

If you need advice or support in managing family-friendly leave – Intelligent Employment can help. Find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 October 2021), 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.

Government response – consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace

Posted on: July 27th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

The government has finally published a response to the 2019 consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. Below is what you need to know:

Employer duty – the government will introduce a positive duty on employers to proactively take “all reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment. A definition of “all reasonable steps” has not been provided. Not only will the duty be enforceable by individual employees after an incident of sexual harassment, there’s the potential for standalone claims against employers paying lip service to the preventative measures they’ve introduced.

Third-party harassment – explicit protections will be introduced to protect employees from third-party harassment (by customers or suppliers, for example). Employers will have a defence to this type of claim if they’re able to show they’ve taken “all reasonable steps” to prevent it.

Extending time limits – the government will “look closely” at extending the time limit to bring a discrimination claim (changing it from three to six months). If this change is made it will likely be across all claims under the Equality Act 2010 to avoid potential confusion over time limits for different claims.

No timescale has been given on the introduction of these changes.

Taking a proactive approach to creating a positive and inclusive working environment doesn’t need to wait for government legislation. Clear policies, regular training and consistent communication will put you on the right track – get in touch for how we can support.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (27 July 2021), 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.

Counting the cost – compensation

Posted on: June 2nd, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

While a recent award of over £2.5 million for disability discrimination is an exception, the decision demonstrates the potential scope and costs of unlimited compensation available in respect of discrimination claims.

Here’s how the costs can add up:

Losses up to the hearing – claimants are entitled to any losses they’ve incurred leading up to the tribunal hearing. These include any benefits, bonuses or pension contributions associated with their role (on top of their salary). Compensation for these losses is uncapped.

Future losses – the Tribunal must determine the point at which the claimant is able to find an equivalent role to the one they had or would have held, before the discriminatory dismissal. Many factors will be at play here including the age of the claimant, detriment on their career, and the prevailing job and salary market (to name a few). Again uncapped – the cost can soon mount up.

Injury to feelings – known as ‘Vento Bands’, awards for injury to feelings are set out in three levels depending on severity. The upper band ranges from £27,400 to £45,600 for the most serious of cases, but Tribunals have the discretion to make awards in excess of the upper limit (in exceptional circumstances).

It pays to be aware and train employees regularly to minimise the possibility of claims arising. Our sessions are engaging, interactive and practical ensuring attendees can put their learning into action. Get in touch to find out what our sessions cover.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (2 June 2021), 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.

Discrimination that falls below the radar

Posted on: May 26th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

Creating a respectful culture not only makes good business sense but also reduces the likelihood of claims.  It isn’t always easy to spot unlawful discrimination – here are some of the key claims that might fall under the radar:

Harassment – even one-off comments or jokes that relate to protected characteristics are enough to amount to harassment if they affect an individual’s dignity. Mimicking in jest the accent of a particular ethnic group is enough for a successful claim.

Indirect discrimination – even well-meaning policy decisions that put at a disadvantage those with a certain protected characteristic can amount to indirect discrimination. By way of example, failure to update employees on maternity leave about work-related events is enough to amount to a successful claim.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments – if you suspect that an individual is struggling with an element of their work because they’re disabled, you need to make reasonable adjustments to help to reduce or eradicate that disadvantage.

If you fail to spot these possible claims, unlimited compensation can be awarded. It pays to be aware and train employees regularly. 

In our next update, we’ll share our insights into compensation trends in respect of discrimination claims. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (26 May 2021), 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.

Supporting managers with conflict competence

Posted on: May 19th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

Divisive disagreements can cause conflict and create potential legal risk. Workplace conflicts are estimated to cost UK employers £28.5 billion a year (over £1000 per employee!).

Resignations, reputation, and potential claims are all costs associated with workplace conflict. Equipping managers to create a positive and inclusive environment isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. Here are our thoughts:

Invest in manager learning – ‘accidental managers’ often miss out on training to develop their skills to nip issues in the bud and drive a positive culture. Click here to find out more about our training solutions.

Consider coaching – some managers have a fear of being ‘found out’. With the support of coaching ideas can be discussed, experiences shared, and managers empowered to have the right conversations. Click here to find out more from our coaching partners.

Create confidence – as ever, user-friendly, straight-talking processes for dealing with conflict are invaluable. Focus particularly on informal resolution to support managers to nip issues in the bud. Find out how we can support.

Get in touch to discuss how we can support you to equip your managers with a proactive approach to workplace conflict and creating an inclusive working environment. See our last update on why equality, diversity and inclusion training needs to be refreshed regularly.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 May 2021), 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.