First Tuesday Q&A

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

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...

If a disabled agency worker requires an adjustment (e.g. a specific type of chair), who is responsible for providing it, agency or hirer?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 08/01/2013 The Disability Discrimination Act extends to those working under “a contract of service or of apprenticeship or a contract personally to do any work”. It also renders it unlawful for a “principal”, in relation to “contract work” to discriminate against a person who is a “disabled contract worker”. ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality A-Typical Working

Where you have a female operations / production manager who has requested part-time working (compressed hours) of 4 days a week instead of 5 due to family-related reasons (new baby). Are we at risk if the sole basis for refusing the request is that there is a daily (Monday - Friday) management requirement?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 04/12/2012 The risk of refusing such a request is that a Tribunal may decide you are indirectly discriminating against that female employee by applying a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) to her role which would put female employees at a particular disadvantage compared with male employees, unless the PC...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Working Time and Leave

Does an employee have the right to place themselves on 'disability related leave' if they believe the appropriate 'reasonable adjustments' have not been made?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 04/12/2012 There is no statutory term or right to “disability related leave”. However, situations can arise where an employee may argue that they are on sick leave because their employer has not made an appropriate reasonable adjustment. In the case of Olenloa v North West London Hospitals NHS Trust (June 201...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Working Time and Leave

We dismissed a male employee a year ago for sending intimidating messages to a female employee. He has now posted a further offensive message on the same employee’s facebook page. At the time the employee left he signed a compromise agreement. What should we do following this female member of staff drawing this to our attention?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/11/2012 An employer has a duty of care towards its employees, but can this be extended to protection from beyond the employment? The Sex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008 amended the definition of harassment. The new provision makes an employer liable for third party harassment. I...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Unfair Dismissal Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures

We have a permanent full time employee out on sick leave. The organisation's Occupational Health Doctor's opinion is that this employee will be fit to return to work on a permanent part time 3 day week. Do we have to implement this recommendation even though the job is permanent full time (5 days a week)?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/04/2012 An employer is not legally obliged, but is usually well advised, to act in accordance with medical recommendations from an occupational health expert unless there is good reason (based on evidence) not to do so. You would therefore be expected to have good reasons to demonstrate why this recommenda...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Sickness and Absence Discrimination and Equality

Our pension age is 65. Can a business still maintain 65 as retirement age or not? If yes, are there any provisos?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/01/2012 The legislation which allowed the lawful retirement of employees who reached the default retirement age of 65 was repealed in April 2011. This doesn’t mean that employees can’t retire at 65 anymore - it just means that this has become an issue of choice for them, rather than compulsion. While conse...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Contracts of Employment Pensions

What is the correct process employers should follow when providing ex-employees with a reference before/after they leave the Company? A statement of service is seen to be unfair for those who have been with the Company a number of years, however, a longer character reference could potentially lead to litigation where a number of employees leave the Company at the same time and some may be given a statement of service while others are given a long character reference.

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/08/2011 The questioner rightly points out that the provision of references can be litigious. Providing long references to some and not to others can lead to allegations of disparity in treatment between employees, which, depending on the circumstances, may also be discriminatory. Employers can also open th...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures Recruitment and Selection