discrimination

Be Aware UK: Response to consultation on extending workplace protection for pregnant women and new parents

The government’s last-minute flurry of legislative activity looks set to continue right up to the parliamentary summer recess; today the government has issued its response to consultation on extending workplace protection for pregnant women and new parents as part of the Good Work Plan. Research by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2016 indicated that over 75% of new mothers had had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy or maternity leave or on their return to work. The 2017 Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices recommended …

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Government consults on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents

The Government has launched a new consultation on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents. It comes off the back of key issues raised in the Women and Equalities Select Committee 2016 report and the recommendations made by the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.  The consultation closes on 5 April 2019. In summary, the consultation: seeks views on extending the current redundancy protection available to women to cover the period of pregnancy and a 6 month period afterwards; asks whether similar protection should be afforded to other groups, for example, those taking shared parental leave or adoption leave; …

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Government’s response to WEC’s report on sexual harassment in the workplace

Earlier this year, the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) launched an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, gathering a range of evidence from oral and written submissions. This culminated in July 2018 in the publication of its report on Sexual harassment in the workplace, which found that the Government, regulators and employers are all failing to tackle the issue. On 18 December 2018, the Committee published the Government’s response to its report. The WEC recommendations  The WEC’s report highlighted five key calls-to-action, including; Putting sexual harassment at the top of the agenda by: Introducing a new duty on employers …

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Supreme Court rules that it was not unlawful discrimination for a bakery to refuse to supply a cake supportive of gay marriage.

In an important case which has highlighted the difficulties which can arise when balancing the rights of individuals with different protected characteristics, the Supreme Court has held in Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd and ors,  that it is not unlawful discrimination, either on grounds of sexual orientation or political opinion, for a bakery to refuse to supply a cake iced with the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’.  The bakery owners held religious beliefs that gay marriage is inconsistent with Biblical teaching and therefore unacceptable to God.  The Supreme Court’s decision has overturned both the Northern Ireland County Court and Court …

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Disparate pay for maternity and shared parental leave may be indirect discrimination

Following the EAT’s recent ruling, in Capita Customer Management Limited v Ali, that a father who wished to take shared parental leave was not directly discriminated against in not being entitled to the higher maternity pay rate which the employer paid to employees taking maternity leave, the EAT has handed down judgment in Hextall v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police.  The appeal in this case related to indirect discrimination, and provides a useful contrast to the previous judgment on direct discrimination. In Hextall, the Respondent Police Force’s maternity, paternity and shared parental leave policies were such that the only option …

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Employers do not discriminate by paying more for maternity leave than shared parental leave

The EAT has confirmed in Capita Customer Management Limited v Ali that a father who wished to take shared parental leave was not directly discriminated against in not being entitled to the higher maternity pay rate which the employer paid to employees taking maternity leave. Capita’s maternity, paternity and shared parental leave policies applying to employees who had transferred from Telefonica entitled female employees to 14 weeks basic pay followed by 25 weeks of statutory maternity pay when taking maternity leave. When Mr Ali’s daughter was born in February 2016 he was entitled to and took 2 weeks’ paternity leave …

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Supreme Court ends employment tribunal fees with immediate effect

Employment tribunal fees were introduced for the first time in July 2013, and have been subject to challenge ever since. Over the course of the last 4 years, UNISON has launched two judicial reviews, both of which were unsuccessful in the High Court.  In 2015, UNISON’s appeal to the Court of Appeal failed.   Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was granted and, following a two day hearing earlier this year,   this long running saga finally ended today when the Supreme Court decided to unanimously uphold UNISON’s appeal. UNISON had asserted, and the Supreme Court agreed, that the 2013 statutory …

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Scope for ban on Islamic headscarves in the workplace remains limited

The European Court of Justice has decided that an internal rule which prohibits the visible wearing of any religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination based on religion or belief. Although such a rule might constitute indirect discrimination, it may be objectively justified. Facts Ms Achbita (A) was employed, in Belgium, as a receptionist by G4S and was involved in providing reception services for customers.  At the time of A’s recruitment there was an unwritten rule within G4S prohibiting employees from wearing visible signs of political, philosophical or religious belief in the workplace.   When A informed her employer that she …

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The ill-treatment of domestic migrant workers because of their immigration status does not amount to race discrimination under the Equality Act 2010

Bethan Odey and Emma Phillips, Senior Associates in our Birmingham office, comment: The recent case of Taiwo v Olgaigbe and another; Onu v Akwiwu and another [2016] UKSC 31 has highlighted the issues which can arise in respect of the employment rights of migrant workers. The case involved Ms Taiwo and Ms Onu, both Nigerian nationals who entered the UK lawfully with a domestic worker’s visa. Ms Taiwo and Ms Onu were subjected to mental and physical abuse, paid less than the minimum wage and denied the required rest periods. Eventually, Ms Taiwo and Ms Onu fled their employers and …

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