FRIDAY HR FAQS – How long do I have to take someone to tribunal?

Hopefully this won’t ever happen, but if you do find yourself in a situation where you feel you have been unlawfully treated at work, you can make a discrimination claim at an employment tribunal and if this is the case there are time limits during which you need to make your claim.

The normal time limit for making your discrimination claim at an employment tribunal is 3 months less one day from the date when the discrimination happened. But before making your claim you should put a request in to ACAS, who will then offer you the chance to try and settle the dispute using early conciliation, which is a free service.  To avoid going to court, most people and employers choose to take part in the early conciliation process to settle their workplace dispute, the conciliator will talk through the issues with you or your representative and work with you and your employer to see if a resolution can be found.

If you choose to take advantage of the early conciliation process, don’t worry, the time limit for raising a claim is paused and extended for the duration of the early conciliation period.

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Situations where you may choose to make a claim maybe in situations of unfair dismissal, discrimination or contractual breaches such as unfair deductions from your pay. When the time limit starts, can in some instances be difficult to identify, but in any of these situations the time limit will generally start to run from when the decision was made, not when you were told about it.  If in a situation of discrimination, it takes place over a period of time, the time limit starts to run at the end of that period. If you’re dismissed, it’s much more straight forward and the time limit simply starts to run from the date your employment is terminated.

An employment tribunal will have the final say as to whether your claim was brought in time and will consider any links between incidents of discrimination, the evidence of an ongoing situation and whether there is a continuing relationship between you and your employer.

Although time limits for bringing a claim in the employment tribunal are quite strictly enforced, an employment tribunal does have discretion to extend the time limits where it thinks necessary to do so and fair to both you and your employer. In making this decision, an employment tribunal will consider the reasons for the delay, whether the delay affects the evidence and your actions once you knew you may be taking action.

If you do make a claim it is important that you try to get as much information about your legal rights as possible first.

If you would like further advice on making claims or if an employee has made a claim against your company, get in touch with HR Revolution:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

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FRIDAY FAQS – Can an employer ask about my mental health when applying for a new job?

Thanks to awareness days like Wednesday’s World Mental Health Day, the conversation surrounding mental health is getting louder. The stigma attached to talking about our mental health in the same way that we do for our physical health is being lifted and with that there is a growing acceptance that it’s okay not to be okay and to seek support.

The workplace is undeniably an environment that for many people can cause stress and anxiety. If you have a mental health issue then being in a pressured working environment, that may not be supportive of your mental health, can cause further damage to your health and overall well-being.

It’s therefore the role of employers to ensure they have fair practices in place with regards to their approach for identifying and supporting their teams with mental health issues, just as they do for physical health.

As an employee you should expect to be supported by your employer and provided with the necessary support for a mental health issue.

However, is it a concern for those seeking new employment that if they have an existing mental health issue, it may impact upon their likelihood of getting a job?

We want to help debunk some of these crucial questions and shed light on an area of HR that is vital for a happy and productive workplace.

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1. Can I be asked about my mental health issue when I apply for a job? 

In short, no. It’s unlawful for an employer to ask a candidate if they have a history mental health issues during the application process.

If you are asked about your mental health, you are not obliged to answer this, however, if you do choose to disclose this information it is recommended that you do so honestly.

Asking candidates health questions before a job offer is made is unlawful and can be reported to the Equality Advice and Support Service.

If you are asked about your mental health during the application process and then don’t receive an offer, you may want to challenge this as it can be classed as discrimination on the grounds of disability.

2. Are there situations when an employer can ask about my mental health before making a job offer?

There are a few situations when an employer may need to ask about your health before a job offer is made, these can include:

  • To find out if you can take an assessment for a job.
  • To find out if you need reasonable adjustments to the application process.
  • To find out whether you will be able to do the requirements of the job, whilst they also consider any reasonable adjustments that may need to be made.
  • To find out if applications are coming from a diverse group of people.
  • To establish if you have the particular disability required for the job.
  • To assess you for national security purposes.

For example, a lawful question about your health and whether this affects your ability to do the job would be; if you were applying for a job erecting scaffolding and the employer asked questions at the application stage regarding disability, health and whether the applicant has a fear of heights.

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3. What questions can I be asked about my mental health once I’ve been offered a job?

Once you receive a job offer then your new employer is lawfully able to ask you questions about your health.

If your new employer asks questions about your mental health and subsequently becomes concerned due to a mental health issue you may not be able to carry out your job, then it is the employer’s responsibility to seek further advice from your doctor or occupational health.

Should your new employer ask a question about your mental health and then withdraw the job offer without first consulting advice or conducting a further assessment or investigation, then this may be seen direct discrimination and therefore unlawful.

Mental Health is a really important HR issue in the workplace and If you need any help or advice on how to approach it, get in touch:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Time to talk day… #timetotalk

Today is Time to talk day, a charity run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health.

What many people don’t realise is that Mental Health falls under the category of disability and if people who have mental health problems are treated unfavourably because of their condition this is discrimination and, if you experience it, you may have a legal right to challenge it.

So mental health is an issue your business can no longer afford to ignore:

  • Almost one in three people have experienced mental health issues whilst in employment
  • Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year
  • 95% of employees calling in sick with stress gave a different reason

Tackling stigma (where an employee is perceived as being different because of their mental health problem) and discrimination and developing a culture where your employees feel able to talk openly about their mental health problems should be the number one priority within your business.

It is important as an employer you are aware of your obligations to your employees to protect them from discrimination.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives employees the right to challenge discrimination. It protects people from being discriminated against because of certain protected characteristics, such as gender, age or disability and mental health.

Since the Equality Act 2010 came into force, it is unlawful for employers to ask questions about health during recruitment.

It is up to the candidate whether they wish to disclose their mental health problem or not. An employer has a duty to ensure that if the candidate does disclose, they are not discriminated against and are treated fairly.

CIPD make some recommendations for employers:

  • Distinguish carefully between essential and desirable requirements for the job to allow for flexibility in making adjustments.
  • Communicate your commitment to equal opportunities and how your organisation values staff mental health.
  • State that reasonable adjustments are available
  • Any information on health or disabilities should be kept separate from the job application form

Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 also puts employers under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments (in other words changes).

A few examples of changes that might help

  • Extending flexible working policies to allow commuting outside of rush hours
  • Allowing staff to take time off work for appointments
  • Making changes to their working area
  • Allowing staff to work at home on occasion if this is helpful
  • Temporarily re-allocating tasks they find stressful and difficult

As an employer you have a key role to play in supporting employees to maintain their mental wellbeing. Regular supervision or catch-up meetings can help managers recognise symptoms such as stress, anxiety, paranoia or depression. It is also worth incorporating time in your meetings to discuss your employees’ wellbeing. Managers play a crucial role in setting reasonable adjustments, flexible working allowances and return to work plans if employees need additional support.

Ideally, speaking about mental health problems should be an intrinsic part of the culture of your workplace.

It’s critical that all of your line managers feel confident having a conversation about mental health with their line reports. Increasing their capability to spot signs and symptoms in their team, and feel confident in discussing this with those who are struggling will help stop problems before they become more challenging.

If you need any further advice or guidance or would like to discuss how you can tackle any Mental Health issues within your business from an HR perspective give us a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

It’s time to talk and HR Revolution are here to support you, your employees AND your business.

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How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 3

In yesterday’s blog we discussed disclosing gender identities, so in this blog we cover how to support your employees and what changes you can make in the workplace.

Managing changeover of an employee’s personal details:

Terminology – You should ask the employee how they wish to be addressed. If the employee is in agreement inform their colleagues and ensure they use the correct terminology.

Documentation – Employer and employee should agree what details need to be changed i.e personal records, access passes etc. A discussion of what will happen to previous records relating to gender should take place to ensure confidentiality is maintained.

Appearance and dress code – A gender neutral dress code could be applied or if not appropriate the employee should be able to follow the dress code in a way which best fits their gender identity.

Toilet, changing and shower facilities –  An employee should never be segregated and told to use particular facilities but be allowed to use those they feel best match their identity following gender reassignment.

Dealing with a sensitive gender identity matter – Issues such as names and/or gender not matching their passport/ID need to be handled sensitively whilst still ensuring the company is compliant in its checks.  Having a third party a business can turn to, to handle these issues can be reassuring for both employer and employee.

Company health insurance scheme – To ensure trans employees are treated fairly, it is recommended for an employer to include treatments and procedures for gender reassignment in its scheme.

Absence from work because of gender reassignment – It is discriminatory to treat an employee, who is absent from work to undergo gender reassignment, less favourably. Depending on an employer’s policy for managing absence, they may wish to record absences due to gender reassignment, but shouldn’t include them in ‘absence triggers’. It may be worth considering if you offer limited special leave (at your discretion) which maybe paid or unpaid

Performance – It is recommended to make allowances for the trans employee’s job performance during transition and a short period afterwards, as surgery is likely to have temporary side effects.  An employee may ask to move to another role or change some duties which may cause difficulties whilst they transition or they may request a phased return to work, wherever possible this should be considered and catered for.

Trans and mental health – A person questioning their gender may experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. An employer can support the employee, by providing a welcoming and safe environment at work.

Support an employee with a family member transitioning – It is a type of direct discrimination to treat an employee less favourably than another because of the gender reassignment of someone they are associated with. The impact on an employee with a family member who is transitioning can be considerable; therefore you should treat them with sensitivity and provide them with support such as time off.

Develop trans inclusive policies  – Trans inclusive policies will need to be rolled out. Matters covered should include:

  • Transitioning at work including leave and pay
  • Dress code
  • Toilet, changing and shower facilities
  • Employee’s personal records and how these will be dealt with
  • If possible how an employee can transition to another role/department
  • How an employee should report any gender reassignment discrimination
  • Unacceptable behaviour towards employees inclusive of those of non-binary identities
  • Maternity/paternity/adoption/shared parental leave

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

 

How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 2

In yesterday’s blog we talked about discrimination in the workplace, today we discuss disclosing gender identities.

The job applicant: A ‘transsexual’ person is not required to tell a prospective employer they have changed gender when they apply for a job, it should always be up to them to decide whether to disclose or talk about their gender identity – for fear being misunderstood and/or treated unfairly.

The employee: A person who is starting (or intending) to go through gender reassignment will in practice have no choice but to tell their employer.  The employee will then agree with the employer what information can be shared with whom and when.

Other general rules: Employers and colleagues must not ‘out’ an employee or applicant as trans as they could breach laws. Also, apart from in certain circumstances, it is a criminal offence to reveal, without the person’s permission, that they hold a gender recognition certificate or have applied for one.

If an employee or applicant who is trans decides that some information can be shared, the employer should, without pressuring the employee, talk to them about:

  • What they do and don’t want their colleagues to know
  • Who will be told, who will do the telling, where, when and how, and
  • Whether the employee will be there.

It is advisable that communication of any information to be shared is noted and recorded, and happens before the employee changes their appearance.

Employees disclosing their trans identity to a supportive employer can feel more comfortable at work, with a likely improvement in their morale and productivity, too.

Depending on the employee’s role, it may be beneficial to discuss and agree whether some limited information about their trans identity or gender reassignment should be communicated to clients and customers the employee regularly deals with.

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

Look out for Part 3 of the blog tomorrow.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

 

How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 1

The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because you are transsexual – that is, your gender identity differs from the gender assigned to you at birth.  In the Equality Act it is known as gender reassignment. All transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment.

Employers, managers and colleagues should be aware that no two gender reassignment situations or two ‘trans’ identities are likely to be exactly the same.  If an employee feels they have been discriminated against, they will be able to bring a claim to an Employment tribunal.

We have put together a three part blog that highlight where you need to be more vigilant when it comes to gender reassignment discrimination in the workplace.

Recruitment

Job advert/job description – These documents can be difficult to write at the best of times; try to ensure they are clear on exactly what is needed for the post.

Advertising – You should consider more than one type of media or advertising platform to avoid ending up with too narrow an audience.

Personal information – Make sure any information you request is relevant to the recruitment process.

Interview – When you meet an applicant, do not assume someone’s gender by their appearance.

References – When contacting a previous employer for a reference always ensure you have the employees consent and be careful to use the correct name and title.

Equality monitoring form – You do not have to track how many job applications you receive from different groups of people, or the characteristics of the people working for you. However, if you do collect personal information (e.g. ethnicity, gender, faith, sexuality) about job applicants or an employee, you must protect their data. You must not discriminate against a candidate based on their personal information.

Pay, terms and conditions of employment

It is important to ensure there are no terms and conditions or contractual benefits that disadvantage or exclude someone based on their gender or gender reassignment.

Promotion

In promotion opportunities, discrimination can be:

  • Turning down applications from anyone because they are proposing to reassign their gender
  • Discourage an employee from applying because they have or are reassigning their gender
  • Not promoting an employee who is the best person for the job based on gender reassignment.

As an employer you have a duty to assess someone’s promotion based on their ability and performance. It is advisable to have a well-structured process for promotions and link these to performance reviews where possible to eliminate the risk of discrimination.

Training

An employer should ensure training opportunities are equally accessible for employees who propose to go through, are going through or have gone through gender reassignment. You should also ensure that you do not withhold training due to those reasons as it could be discriminatory.

Dismissal

It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee because of their gender reassignment, perceived gender reassignment or association with someone else’s gender reassignment.

Redundancy

An employee must not be at a disadvantage or discriminated against in a redundancy process because of their gender reassignment, perceived gender reassignment or association with someone else’s gender reassignment.

When going through redundancy consultations any employees absent because of gender reassignment should still be consulted with.

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects including redundancy where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

Look out for Part 2 of the blog tomorrow.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

 

 

Don’t ignore your HR responsibilities

Often here at HR Revolution we are approached by a new client because they haven’t put the right HR measures in place for their employees, which has resulted in a situation they are not equipped to deal with.   Unfortunately HR always gets pushed down the priority list, but is a vitally important role and something else to be aware of is ignoring employment responsibilities may also have financial implications when it does go wrong.

If this has caught your attention read on, in this blog we have listed the most common HR risks that many small businesses take and the potential penalties for ignoring or getting them wrong.

Ignoring legal compliance or ignoring the law
By law you are required to have a number of written employment policies in place, such as disciplinary and grievance procedure and equal opportunities to name but a few.  This is where an employee handbook is imperative as it lays out what you expect of the employee.

The risk if you don’t have these policies in place is, if an employee makes an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim it would most certainly count against you if you didn’t have the appropriate policies in place, leading to a larger compensation award.

Not having a written employment contract
You are required by law to provide employees with a written statement of terms and conditions of their employment (i.e. employment contract), within 2 months of them starting to work with you.  If this is not in place, you could be taken to an employment tribunal and fined between 2-4 weeks pay.

More importantly, if you don’t have any terms of employment put in writing for an employee and there is a disagreement later down the line about what was agreed, you could be looking at a breach of contract claim.  Compensation payouts for breach of contract claims can be up to £25,000 if taken to an employment tribunal or £50,000 at the High Court.  Definitely not worth taking any risks.

Not checking an employee’s right to work evidence
You need to check that all your employees have the right to work in the UK (by taking copies of evidence, such as a passport or work permit).  If this not carried out and and employee is found not to have the right to work in the UK, you can be fined up to £20,000 per person for employing illegal workers.

Discriminating against an employee
In employment law, employees are protected against being discriminated against on the grounds of age, disability, marriage or civil partnership, race, nationality, sex/sexual orientation, ethnic origin, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief and colour.

In cases of discrimination, tribunals can award unlimited compensation and there is NO length of service requirement for employees to make a claim.  Also there is a particular risk with discrimination cases that if an employee has shown that discrimination could have taken place, it is then up to the employer to prove to the tribunal that this is not the case, which can be extremely difficult to do.

Unfair dismissal of an employee
Dismissing an employee without having a legally fair reason or not following the correct legal process, can lead to an employment tribunal awarding the employee up to £74,000 compensation or a year’s pay if this is lower.

In addition to that, you will have to pay your employment lawyer’s fee even if you win, which could amount to several thousands of pounds!  However, employees need to have had 2 years service to claim unfair dismissal, although if they can show that they were discriminated against unfairly when dismissed they can make a tribunal claim regardless of their length of service (see above).

Underestimatinng the knowledge of employees
Employees can now find any information about their rights on the internet, so tend to be very knowledgeable about their rights at work and processes their employers should be following.

As an employer if you don’t do things properly this can lead to your employees being demotivated and lower productivity. So make sure you treat your employees fairly and lawfully and it will lead them to be happier and more productive at work.

If you are struggling with any of the issues we have outlined above and need some HR help, please do give HR Revolution a call, we know we can save you time with practical guidance on how to handle your daily HR tasks.  Call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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There is no room for hate in the workplace

We’re currently living through some very uncertain times and there seems to be a story in the news weekly detailing the terrible things that are happening all over the world including acts of violence, racism, terrorism the list goes on. Sadly there is clearly a lot of hate around and that can sometime creep into the workplace, with people passing their opinion and judgement or just because some people stereotype and judge people unjustly.

So what exactly do employers need to be aware of, and what are your responsibilities as we navigate our way through what’s going on around us? Read on for advice and guidance.

Take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment

If you witness hateful incidents in your workplace, it’s your responsibility to take action. Leaders should never turn a blind eye to such situations, and if you were to take this route, you’d be likely to find that everything very quickly escalated out of control.

Many of our clients employ diverse workforces and enjoy the many benefits of doing so, but it’s important that you have a plan in place when problems arise. Act fast, and in line with your existing people policies. Be firm, and lead by example. This is no time for waiting around or being ambiguous with your actions.

Contact the appropriate authorities where necessary

Some problems can be nipped in the bud immediately with some clear communication and a firm stand. Sometimes though, there are deeper issues at play, and things can very quickly spiral out of control. It may be the case that you need to involve the police.

This may seem like a big step to take, but it’s vital that you remember that you have a responsibility as an employer. The authorities will be able to give you advice on what to do next, and will be able to take any necessary steps to ensure that the situation is managed in accordance with the law.

Our advice for handling such issues is short and to the point. Take action quickly, and take a stand against any such behaviour.

If you suspect that your discrimination and harassment policies may be outdated or no longer fit for purpose, then now would be a great time to complete an audit of exactly where you are, and what challenges may be ahead.

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