First Tuesday Q&A

The claimant was dismissed by reason of gross misconduct and in particular.

Is it right that obesity is a disability and that I have to provide extra wide chairs etc for obese employees?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/01/2015 It can be, according to the recent decision of the European Court of Justice in FOA (Kaltoft) v Billund. Mr Kaltoft was a clinically-obese child-minder for a local council in Denmark. He was dismissed due to redundancy; he alleged that obesity was a factor and brought proceedings. The District Cour...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality

Where underperformance involves a disability, how far do you have to go to try to get the person up to 'normal' performance?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 04/11/2014 Where underperformance is caused or exacerbated by a disability, employers need to be mindful of the possibility of both an unfair dismissal and/or disability discrimination claim. To help reduce the risk of a disability discrimination claim, the employer should consider what reasonable adjustments...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Discrimination and Equality

How many chances do you have to give a persistent "offender" where disciplinary matters are concerned?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 04/11/2014 It seems this employee has committed misconduct on quite a number of occasions. Rather than allowing this to continue, giving him/her chances to improve, it is preferable to deal with the misconduct under a disciplinary procedure. Formal disciplinary action taken under the procedure usually involve...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Discrimination and Equality

Does dismissal for absences due to post-natal depression arising after maternity leave amount to sex and/or pregnancy and maternity discrimination?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/08/2014 Under Article 5A of the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, pregnancy discrimination occurs where an employer treats an employee unfavourably because of her pregnancy or because of an illness she has suffered as a result of her pregnancy during the “protected period” i.e. from the beg...

What are the legal requirements when providing references, what are we obliged to do?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 04/03/2014 There is strictly speaking no legal obligation on an employer to provide a reference for an employee or ex-employee and employers are therefore generally entitled to refuse to provide a reference. There are however some limited exceptions to this general rule, such as: 1. Discrimination: Failure to...

An employee has a Facebook profile which is public for all to see. The employee adds the company where they work on their profile page. They then make very serious racist comments. The posts are brought to the company’s attention. What action is required? 

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/12/2013 It is possible for employers to take action against employees who make inappropriate or derogatory comments about fellow employees or their employer on social media sites or where they bring the employer’s reputation into disrepute as the case may here. This is particularly the case where employee ...

What is the legal status on the use of spying on potential candidates using social media?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/11/2013 According to a recent Microsoft survey, less than 15% of candidates all across the UK believe information which is available on social media affects their chances of securing employment. The same survey, however, showed that 45% of employers in the UK admit to using it regularly and rejecting candi...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures Recruitment and Selection

In the past we topped up maternity benefit (to the level of normal pay) for staff on maternity leave. However, due to financial constraints we have informed staff that we will not be doing this in the future. A staff member’s representative has written to us stating that this is in contravention of the Equality Act in England and Wales on the grounds that this cost saving measure disproportionately impacts on staff members due to family status. Is this true?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/11/2013 Making any changes to maternity pay has the potential to give rise to claims for discrimination on grounds of sex or pregnancy. Assuming matters relate to the jurisdiction of England and Wales (as opposed to Northern Ireland), however, the employer should seek to address the following questions:-Is...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Contracts of Employment Working Time and Leave

What is the current state of law in relation to disability absences being taken into account by an employer for disciplinary action?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/08/2013 Disciplinary action against an employee for absences that are a consequence of a disability could constitute discrimination arising from disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. If persistent or long-term absence affects the employee’s ability to carry out the job, you should addres...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Discrimination and Equality

A Manager wishes to issue the following memo to all staff;

It has been decided that, in all disciplinary meetings all communications must be in English. It will not be permitted for anyone to communicate in any other language. This will ensure that everyone present knows what is being discussed.

Is there any way in which this can be justified without breaching race discrimination law?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/02/2013 While we are unaware of the background leading you to consider issuing this memo, you are likely to struggle justifying its position, particularly as, we assume, you have employees who are not fluent in English. A core principle of carrying out a fair disciplinary procedure is for employees to unde...