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Employment

Settlement agreements – a reminder

The EHRC guidance contains a helpful summary as to the key requirements of a settlement agreement – which is a contract under which the worker gives up their right to pursue one or more employment claims that they may have against their employer. In return, the worker receives financial compensation, or some other form of compensation, from their employer.
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NDAs – guidance

The use of NDAs in an employment context has been widely reported on and we have covered them in our February 2019 (pp12 and 34) and April 2019 (p12) editions. Practitioners and their employer clients should note that guidance has been issued recently by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the use of NDAs (referred to as confidentiality agreements in the guidance) in discrimination cases. Some of the key recommendations in the guidance are:
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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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Most-read articles

LPAs – gifts by attorneys
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Giving attorneys the power under an LPA to make gifts to others and themselves can invalidate it, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has ruled in a test case. The law limits the power of... Read more...
VAT and disbursements – Law Society guidance
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
The Law Society has issued a detailed new practice note ‘VAT Treatment of Disbursements and Expenses’ (8 October 2019) following two recent cases in which the concept of disbursements has been... Read more...
Socialising with colleagues – a thing of the past?
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
 It is not the role of The Practical Lawyer to judge. But firms would be well advised to re-visit their attitude to lawyers socialising with each other following a recent high-profile case of the... Read more...
Trial bundles – careful preparation required
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
Rather like buses, one waits for judicial comment on court documents and trial bundles, and then two come along at once. An article discusses a recent case in which the court was unimpressed with the... Read more...
Infant approval hearing – top tips
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
An interesting article provides some practical advice on achieving the court’s approval in infant approval hearings. This is a mechanism by which the court considers and, hopefully, approves the... Read more...
Tenant Fees Act 2019 – fully into force
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
We have reported in our March 2019 (p27) and May 2019 (p28) editions on the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act which came into force for new tenancies and licences to occupy on 1 June 2019. The Act... Read more...
CVA – use to reduce rent
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
 If a limited company is insolvent, it can use a CVA to pay creditors over a fixed period. If creditors agree, the limited company can continue trading. The CVA has been used by companies in the... Read more...
Rectification of title – what is ‘exceptional’?
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
The HC has considered whether or not to correct a mistake on a registered title. Under Sch 4 LRA 2002 the court can order rectification but no order may be made without the proprietor’s consent in... Read more...
Paternity – best interests
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
What’s the court’s approach to paternity cases when the issue arises years after the child’s birth, and in circumstances where both child and F always believed F was the biological father, but... Read more...
Religious beliefs – not always protected
Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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... Read more...

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