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Equality & Diversity

An employee says she was racially harassed by a senior manager, and submits a lengthy grievance. An ex-employee brings an Employment Tribunal claim, saying he was forced to resign by a colleague who told him his sexual orientation offended his religion.

Your Board asks whether you have conducted an equal pay audit, and if not whether you should. You need to overhaul your diversity policies and training programmes.

Who do you turn to?

Our team has unrivalled strength in depth in advising on all issues related to equality and diversity, which include some of the most important and challenging on the HR and legal agenda today. These include:

  • Employment Tribunal litigation for discrimination based on sex (including equal pay), pregnancy / maternity, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or gender reassignment, and associated claims for harassment and victimisation
  • Advice on any issue with an equality / diversity angle, such as handling the exit of a persistent poor performer with a suspected disability, complex grievances, and redundancy dismissals impacting maternity leavers
  • Advice on “family friendly” matters: policies on maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay; requests for flexible working; time off for dependants; and issues around surrogacy and IVF
  • Equal pay is gaining a higher profile, as Tribunals have new powers to order equal pay audits, and mandatory gender pay gap reporting comes into effect. In addition to our experience in dealing with complex equal pay disputes, we help clients conduct equal pay reviews and audits and manage the associated (and significant) legal risks, and can assist in complying with pay gap reporting obligations
  • Our dedicated training team is experienced in conducting manager training on equal opportunities, diversity, family rights and flexible working, and training for all staff on their equality obligations. This can have an exclusively UK focus, or where desired we can make this relevant for cross-border workforces

Related items

Ireland - Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 aims to ensure compliance and enforcement

08 May 2019

The measures contained in the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 (“the Bill”), published on 4 April, show that the Irish Government is taking gender pay gap (“GPG”) reporting seriously. The Bill proposes to introduce various mechanisms, available to different groups of interested parties, designed to ensure that companies and government bodies comply with their GPG reporting obligations.

Influencing for Impact – the Law Society report on the need for gender equality in the legal profession

25 April 2019

2019 marks the 100 year anniversary of women having the right to qualify as solicitors and barristers (as well as serve on juries and act as magistrates).

Neurodiversity, autism and the workplace

01 April 2019

“Neurodiversity” is a relatively new term, but increasing numbers of employers are seeking to plug their skills gap by developing a more neurodiverse workplace.

Tom Heys, Karen Baxter, Anna Bond: Supporting bisexual and transgender employees in their workplace

12 February 2019

Karen Baxter, Tom Heys and Anna Bond have written an article for HR Review discussing a recent survey by Stonewall that found bi and trans inclusivity was significantly low among employers, prompting the charity’s executive director to call for more to be done to tackle this problem in the workplace.

The Court of Appeal has upheld an EAT decision that Asda’s lower-paid, predominantly female retail staff can compare themselves to higher-paid, mainly male, distribution depot staff.

07 February 2019

The Court of Appeal (“CA”) decision is the latest stage in this long-running legal dispute over equal pay. Back in 2014, over 7,000 female Asda retail store workers brought claims in the Employment Tribunal (“ET”) arguing that they were entitled to equal pay with male distribution depot staff, on the basis that their work was of “equal value” to male workers.

Redundancy protection for pregnancy and maternity to be extended?

31 January 2019

The Government has published a consultation paper on extending protection from redundancy for women during pregnancy, women who have returned to work after maternity leave, and new parents.

Refusal to provide cake supporting gay marriage was not direct sexual orientation discrimination

11 October 2018

The Supreme Court (“SC”) has ruled that a bakery did not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation when it refused to provide a cake for a customer bearing the words “support gay marriage”. The bakery’s refusal was based on the owner’s Christian beliefs that the only form of marriage acceptable to God was between one man and one woman.

Care workers not entitled to minimum wage for sleep-in shifts

18 July 2018

In a case of huge significance for the care sector, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) has decided that care workers carrying out “sleep-in” shifts are not entitled to the national minimum wage (“NMW”) for the whole shift, but only when they are required to be awake and working.

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