1. What does the handbook say?
Now is the time to look at policies, processes, and procedures in your office manual and employment handbook.
2. Flexible working
How does your business deal with requests for flexible working?
A recent survey found half of working mothers had their flexible working request rejected or only partly accepted. 86% of the women who are working flexibly said they faced discrimination and disadvantage at work as a result.
Have you got the right sort of policies and procedures? How do you document any request for flexible working? Who makes the decision? Is the decision made in the way which is best for the business, whilst being fair to the employee?
In another recent case which shows how the law has evolved, where the employment appeal tribunal decided that the menopause, or at least menopausal symptoms, is a disability. In that case the employer was said not to have taken seriously the employee’s claims to have been absent from work due to her symptoms. The tribunal found that this was a form of sex discrimination.
Are managers exposing your business to a claim for discrimination? Compensation in discrimination claims is uncapped and can result in very large awards of damages.
In May of this year a successful claim for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal resulted in an award of damages of £2,567,831.00.
It is most important that you have policies and procedures which are known to your managers, which they understand and which they can apply.
Types of discrimination (‘protected characteristics’):
- gender reassignment;
- marriage and civil partnership;
- pregnancy and maternity;
- race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin;
- religion or belief;
- sex; and
- sexual orientation
5. Sexual Harassement
A new report published by the Fawcett Society, Tackling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, shows that at least 40% of women experience sexual harassment during their career. Twenty-three per cent of those surveyed said that the sexual harassment increased or escalated while they were working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having policies and procedures which your managers know and understand is crucial.