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June 2008 Updates

Equalities Bill

The government has announced that it is proposing to publish an Equalities Bill later on this year which will:

  • Permit positive discrimination on the grounds of sex and race. This would mean, for example, that an employer could choose to recruit a woman over a man or an ethnic minority person over a white person because of that factor (i.e. their gender or the colour of their skin) where both are equal candidates.
  • Oblige public sector employers to disclose salary structures in order to provide information about any pay differences between men and women.
  • Bring all discrimination legislation together in one single Act.

Time off for training

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has issued a consultation paper on a proposed new right to request time off for training. Under the proposals, employees with at least six months' service would have a legal right to ask their employer to give them time off from their normal duties to undertake relevant training. As with the right to request flexible working, an employer would be under a duty to consider such a request seriously. We don't know at this stage what exactly “relevant training” would constitute or how much time off an employee could ask for.

Garden leave

An Employment Tribunal has held that, in some situations, an employer is able to place an employee on garden leave even when it is not entitled to under the written terms of the contract of employment. This is despite the implied term that an employee has the right to be provided with work. In this particular case, two senior directors resigned in order to join a competing company. There was strong evidence that they intended to take confidential information belonging to their current employer with them. As a result, the Tribunal held that their employer was not obliged to provide them with work (and therefore was able to place them on garden leave) during their notice periods. This case should not, however, be viewed as “carte blanche” for employers to place employees on garden leave where there is no contractual right to do so. The Tribunal emphasised the seniority of the two employees and the potential damage to the employer's business if the confidential information had been taken away.

Statutory dismissal procedure - unreasonable delay

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed that, where an employer delays unreasonably in following any part of the statutory dismissal procedure, any subsequent dismissal will be automatically unfair.

Email: info@stewartlaw.co.uk


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