Employment Law Pitfalls At Christmas20th Dec 2017

by Neil Andrews on 20th Dec 2017

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MeToo protest against sexual harassment

This is a perilous time of year for employers and employees alike – and not just because of Christmas party indiscretions.

There are many more hazards out there beyond alcohol and mistletoe: redundancy, unfair dismissal and discrimination to name just a few. (Employers – find out more here.)

But we’ll start with mistletoe-related dangers because the landscape has changed dramatically in the last few months…and will continue to do so.

Sexual Harassment And The #MeToo Movement

Two words sum up the huge and long overdue changes that have rocked society’s view and treatment of sexual harassment: Harvey. Weinstein.

The world may have come a long way since the 1970s but 2017 showed us just how far it still has to progress.

The power of the #MeToo movement in denouncing sexual assault and harassment is testament to how bad and how deeply concealed the problems were – and what happens when light is finally shed on them.

Employers who fail to treat sexual harassment in the most serious possible manner will pay the price. But the issue goes even deeper than that, into the realms of power and control.

Employees – particularly millennials – are no longer prepared to tolerate anachronistic boardroom bullies and control freaks. The days of management by shouting should be over. Employers who have yet to grasp that could find themselves on the wrong end of a tribunal claim.

Tribunal Claims Are On The Increase Again

Fees for employment tribunals were introduced in July 2013. Claimants had to pay up to £1,200 to put their case forward. Predictably, numbers of claims plummeted – by an estimated 80 per cent.

Then in July 2017 the fees were abolished again – claim numbers rose by 64 per cent (according to latest government data).

That’s bad news for employers but good news for wronged employees.

So expect to see more claims of unfair dismissal – and also more claims of discrimination.

Why more discrimination claims? There are two simple reasons:

  • Employees need to have completed two years’ service before they can claim for unfair dismissal. There is no such requirement for discrimination claims.
  • Damages for unfair dismissal are capped – but they are unlimited for discrimination. 

Get Expert Legal Advice In Advance

Avoid legal pitfalls by phoning our employment law solicitors before you take action. A simple phone call may be all you need to safeguard your rights.

For more information phone employment law solicitor Neil Andrews, a Partner at Coles Miller and head of the Commercial Department, on 01202 355695.

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