The Practical Lawyer


Philosophical belief – CA comment

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual on account of the individual holding or not holding a particular philosophical belief which itself is a protected characteristic. Five criteria must be met for a particular belief to be protected:
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Reasonable steps defence – a high bar

Under the Equality Act 2010 employers can be vicariously liable for acts of discrimination and harassment by their employees, even if the employer did not know about the acts. Under s109(4) of the 2010 Act, the employer has a defence to such claims if it can be shown that the employer took all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination or harassment.
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Avoiding mental health claims – top tips

An interesting article considers the key findings of the above CIPD report and provides some tips on how employers might avoid claims and promote positive mental health, which include: 
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Avoiding mental health claims – recent decisions

Employers generally understand the importance of safeguarding their employees’ mental well-being but find it harder to put this into practice. A recent CIPD report reveals that mental ill-health is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absence for more than one in five UK organisations. It is estimated that each year in the UK 70 million work days are lost due to mental ill-health which covers a wide range of illnesses including depression, anxiety and other stress-related issues.
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Investigating harassment – problems

Employers are under a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent their employees from committing unlawful harassment. However, it can be difficult to take action if the victim is reluctant to report any wrongdoing for fear of being ‘outed’. This could explain the underreporting of sexual harassment of LGBT workers.
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Being told to keep sexuality quiet – unfair

The ET has considered a case in which an employee was told to keep quiet the fact that she was a lesbian. The employee was told to keep her sexual orientation quiet as the owner of the business was ‘old school’. As a result, she was discreet about her sexual orientation to avoid damaging her career. However, the firm hit financial difficulties and she was made redundant which prompted a number of claims, the only one of which was successful was direct sexual orientation discrimination.
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Changing employment terms – top tips

We reported in our September 2019 edition (p19) on the CA case which considered whether an employer who made a direct pay offer to employees after failing to reach agreement with the union was guilty of unlawful inducement. The CA held that the direct pay offer was not unlawful inducement – the fact that the company continued to negotiate with the union about the broader pay deal was helpful to its argument.
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Modern Slavery Act – review

The MSA 2015 has a number of objectives including:
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NI contributions – changes

The proposal to subject termination payments above the £30,000 threshold to employers’ Class 1A National Insurance contributions continues to progress through the legislative process.
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Religious beliefs – not always protected

The ET has heard an interesting case relating to a person’s religious beliefs. The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone and provides protection from being discriminated against for a protected characteristic – which includes religious beliefs.
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