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Employment Law

Take Action #2 / Is diversity on the leadership agenda?

Posted on: July 2nd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

“Beliefs and the feelings we have about social groups…can influence our decision making and our actions, even when we’re not aware of it.” – Eberhardt, 2019.

For as long as our predisposition to favour people similar to ourselves is unaddressed, discrimination is likely to exist covertly (and sometimes overtly). We’ve provided our suggestions on speaking up, making a difference, and taking action:

  1. Lead with diversity – if your Board isn’t representative of the culture you’re trying to create, do something about it? Consider positively discriminating in favour of candidates who offer a more diverse outlook (see previous update).
  2. Be aware of your limitations – consider equality and diversity champions (who have clout). However fair and diverse your outlook, you’re likely to unconsciously favour individuals similar to yourself. That means that when investigating a harassment, grievance, or a complaint of discrimination, through no fault of your own, your empathy and understanding of a situation may be lacking and one-sided. A team of diverse leaders who are responsible for calibrating and approving your approach (or investigating the issues themselves) should bring balance and better decision-making.
  3. Ask the audience – an inclusion and diversity team of interested individuals should support you to identify opportunities and challenges to diversity across the business.
  4. Cut out the cover ups – we’ve all seen scenarios where a manager allows the best sales person to push the boundaries of what is acceptable (or even go beyond them). A zero tolerance approach to harassment and discrimination, whilst in the short-term may give rise to a flurry of complaints and grievances, should eventually create a culture of fairness and respect with fewer hours spent managing complaints and recruiting replacements.
  5. Consider confidentiality – if you’re proud of your diverse approach, and have done all of some of the above, is there a need for a provision within your settlement agreements asking the individual to keep confidential the circumstances leading to their exit? A bold approach but one worth a conversation?

These decisions and conversations are certainly challenging. Securing the right support and advice is key to achieving the right outcome, while minimising risk. We can support your with an unlimited advice resource to help with these challenges – click here to find out how. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (03 July 2020), 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.

Take Action #1 / Unconscious prejudice – time for positive practices?

Posted on: June 18th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As we saw with #MeToo, we’re experiencing further cultural change which is likely to filter into working environments. The Black Lives Matter campaign highlights yet again the need for positive action around diversity. The ‘time to speak up’ is likely to mean employees feel they have a greater voice and power to address issues.

It’s likely that you’ve thought, discussed or planned to address imbalance of under-represented groups within your business, but if you look around have you been successful? Is there still unconscious prejudice at play? Do you need to take a more disrupting approach to equality? Is it really on your agenda?

Throughout this ‘Take Action’ series, we’ll be talking about some of the approaches you could take not only to present a more culturally contemporary approach to employment, but also reduce the possibility of a successful employment tribunal claim.

One approach you’re able to take is to positively address demographic imbalance by recruiting individuals from under-represented groups.

If you want to recruit an individual from an underrepresented group to address an imbalance, remember:

  1. You need clear evidence of an imbalance
  2. You are only able to favour a candidate because of a protected characteristic (like sex or race) if you can show that they are equally qualified as the next best candidate
  3. You can show that you’ve considered alternatives to your decision to positively discriminate
  4. That your approach to recruitment of under-represented groups is proportionate to the challenge you’re trying to overcome

Decisions and conversations involving protected characteristics are certainly challenging. Securing the right support and advice is key to achieving the right outcome, while minimising risk. We can support your with an unlimited advice resource to help with these challenges – click here to find out how. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (18 June 2020), 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.

Executive People Update

Posted on: June 17th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As part of keeping you in our focus during the coronavirus pandemic, our executive people update ensures you’re on top of the latest changes in legislation, case and employment law trends. Click here for more information about how we can support you to manage the latest changes.

Tribunal fees

According to The Times, the Ministry of Justice has asked the Law Commission to provide its recommendations for “a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future”.

This is a welcome sign for many employers. Watch this space for more details.

Furlough fraud 

By the end of May, HMRC had received almost 1,900 reports of fraudulent use of the Job Retention Scheme. They’re now assessing the reports to determine actions and next steps. The figures are not broken down into specifics, however it’s likely those reported have been asking employees to carry out work while furloughed or furloughing employees without telling them.

An HMRC spokesperson has stated that if you’ve made a genuine mistake, they want to work with you to put it right. So if at any point you suspect you’ve made a mistake within your claim, it’s best to approach HMRC immediately to resolve the issue.

Face covering fines 

You’ll have no doubt seen in the news that wearing a face mask or face covering is now compulsory on public transport. Anyone not doing so can be refused aboard, and issued with a £100 fine. The rules only apply while on board public transport (not while waiting), however stations are encouraging people to use face coverings at all times.

You should make sure all employees required to travel to work via public transport are aware of these new rules, and have access to a suitable face covering allowing them to avoid potential fines or being unable to travel to work. The government have provided guidance on how you can make your own face covering at home.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (17 June 2020), 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.

Scoring v interviews: redundancies

Posted on: June 11th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

If you’re going through a redundancy process, you’ll be doing everything you can to ensure that the process is fair and that you’re supporting individuals at risk so far as possible.

Sometimes, an interview process to identify those that remain at risk of redundancy might seem fairer than what can feel like an artificial scoring process. But is that the view of the tribunals? 

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision has confirmed as follows:

  1. Generally, where you have individuals doing the same or a similar role and fewer individuals are required, a fair and objective scoring process is the accepted way to determine who remains at risk. That scoring can be structured around the role to identify appropriately who is the best individual(s) to remain in the post(s). Clearly that scoring needs to be capable of verification wherever possible.
  2. When looking to the future if you’ve identified a role that might be suitable for two or more individuals who remain at risk of redundancy, an interview process may be used as one way of selecting fairly. The interview process can be designed to assess whether the individuals would be suitable for the role. It was thought that scoring individuals in respect of a new role that they haven’t done before would be challenging due to a lack of evidence of the individuals’ ability to do the new role.

It’s important to note that there is flexibility in the approach you take in either scenario so early advice to identify the appropriate process is crucial. Not only do you need to ensure that you select appropriately but ensure that the remainder of the process is fair and lawful.

If you’re considering redundancies, or need help determining how you’re going to select between individuals, we’ve got a range of flexible, straight-talking solutions to support you. Here’s our individual and collective consultation packages, or get in touch to discuss in more detail. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (11 June 2020), 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.

Managing divisions

Posted on: June 3rd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

It would be an understatement to say that racial tensions are running high in America. With such emotive issues, emotions may well bubble over, particularly when teams are stretched and tired.

It doesn’t matter that something was a joke, was taken out of context or was said with the best of intentions – if an employee takes offence, a harassment claim can be expensive to deal with on many levels.

Beyond that, strength of opinion can divide as well as cement employee relationships and can create friction that is difficult to manage well. It’s a good time to remind managers of:

  1. The training they’ve recently received around dignity and respect at work
  2. Where to find your equal opportunities policy, and to have a read
  3. How to spot bubbling issues and deal with them quickly and sensitively
  4. When to discuss issues with your HR/People team
  5. The fact they may express an understanding of the importance of the issues, but not to encourage disagreements or divisive opinion
  6. The fact they should think carefully before involving themselves in emotive discussions

If you don’t already have them in place, or are looking to review and update your equal opportunities and dignity and respect at work policies, our Intelligent Employment platform will be able to help. Find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (03 June 2020), 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.