Newsletter: February 2024

Welcome to the February edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.

Last month we looked at the key employment legislation changes coming into force this April, and what each of these mean for employers and employees. This month, we’re focusing on the importance of creating an inclusive workplace. We’ll look at a recent Employment Tribunal decision, and some upcoming awareness events to support inclusion.

Inclusion at work

Inclusion is still high on the agenda for employers and employees. It’s something that potential candidates actively look for, whilst also counting to the loyalty of existing staff. As well as the benefits for employees, an inclusive workplace and a diverse workforce has many benefits for organisations. Such as, more diverse knowledge, skills and experience; improved problem solving and creativity; attraction and retention of staff; and a diverse colleague experience can also attract a more diverse client base. Individuals who feel they belong, can bring their whole selves to work and perform to the best of their ability, with equal access to training, progress and success.

What can organisations do? Ensure they have an up-to-date policy in place, and awareness training for colleagues, to help respect differences in others, avoid stereotyping, and to challenge and report discrimination if observed. Also, training for managers on supporting colleagues and fostering trust and good communication. Some organisations have an Inclusivity team, and build knowledge and understanding through supporting awareness events, such as those featured.

Employment Tribunal Decision: Victimisation and Disability Discrimination

In the case of Miss S Molyneux vs Apprentify Limited, the claimant, a digital media apprentice, suffered with dyscalculia; a condition that makes maths and understanding numbers difficult. She was required to sit a maths exam to complete her apprenticeship, and so with two months to go she engaged a skills tutor to support her. However, the employer made her sit a mock exam without notice, which the claimant failed. The following month the claimant raised allegations of sexual harassment. She was dismissed a month after that, and her employer claimed her dismissal was due to her failure to pass the mock exam.

The ET found in favour of Miss Molyneux’s claim of disability discrimination; that there had been a failure to make reasonable adjustments, and that requiring her to sit the mock exam without notice put her at a disadvantage due to her dyscalculia. The ET also found in favour of her victimisation claim, in that they found her dismissal had in part been due to her sexual harassment complaint.
Miss Molyneux was awarded £52,348 in compensation, £20,000 of which was damages for injury to feelings resulting from discrimination and victimisation.

What can we learn from this? Employers must seek to understand requirements for reasonable adjustments to give all colleagues an equal chance to succeed, treat all claims of harassment seriously, and educate managers on dealing with these appropriately.

Race Equality Week

Race Equality week is a UK-wide movement that is celebrated annually by thousands of organisations and individuals to address the challenges and barriers of race equality in the workplace. Each year there is a theme or a goal to celebrate, and this year the theme is #ListenActChange.
Listen to colleagues, understand their experiences and points of view. Act on anything that does not seem right, and make an effort to change any behaviour or actions that may cause inequality in the workplace.

The movement encourages organisations and employees to discuss challenges and barriers they have experienced, to raise awareness and share ideas on ways to support one another in the workplace and outside. The most common mistakes organisations face are when race-related comments are made and then get dismissed as workplace ‘banter’, or when employees comment on a colleague’s appearance or workwear, which could lead to bullying and harassment claims. Many employees choose not to officially report when such comments are made, in fear of losing their jobs, creating an even more uncomfortable work environment, or having a negative impact on their future in the company.

The workplace is often like a second home where we spend hours every week with our fellow colleagues. Employers must protect and support colleagues to ensure a safe and comfortable work environment for everyone, and speak up for those who are not able to do so.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a day to mark and celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond, and to recognise and challenge discrimination and inequality. The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion; ensuring women from all backgrounds feel included and as a result, empowered, relevant, and that they belong, which in turns enables them to perform to their full potential.
Find out more about the campaign and how employers can support, here.

Some dates for your diaries.

  • 5 February 2024 – Race Equality Week
  • 8 March 2024 – International Women’s Day
  • 12 March 2024 – My Whole Self Day
  • 18 March – Neurodiversity Celebration Week
  • April – Stress Awareness Month

Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 19/01/24. This does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter or would like more information to support your business with the changes, please get in touch.

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