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Maternity Action, a charity working to end inequality and improving the health and well-being of pregnant women, has recently produced a report on the increased risk of redundancy during pregnancy, maternity leave and returning to work. Maternity Action highlights statistics from a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which Eric Gilligan discussed in his article back in May 2016.

It is well known that workers who make “protected disclosures” (i.e. “blow the whistle”) must not suffer any detrimental treatment from their employer because they have made such disclosure. If they are dismissed for doing so, this will be an automatically unfair dismissal. This is a technically complex area of law, and there are many pitfalls which employers can fall into in relation to how they respond to whistleblowing. The recent Court of Appeal decision of Royal Mail Ltd v Jhuti [2017] EWCA Civ 1632 is therefore a welcome one for employers, as it affirms the principle that the dismissal of an employee who has made a protected disclosure may  be fair if the dismissing manager is shown to be unaware of any protected disclosures.  The motivations of other employees who may seek to subject an employee to disadvantage because of their whistle-blowing  are not to be attributed to the Employer  provided that  any disciplinary or capability process is conducted in a fair way independently of colleagues with such unlawful intentions.

The ASPC have produced their figures for the Third Quarter of the year and makes interesting reading.

Compassionate leave is time taken off by an employee following a bereavement. Many employers have a policy in place for compassionate leave which states how long employees are entitled to take off and whether it will be paid or not. Even if there are no formal policies in place, in practice most employers will allow employees to take time off following a bereavement or to attend a funeral.

In August 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May announced an audit of public services to reveal racial disparities, partly in response to figures from the Equality and Human Rights Commission which showed large inequalities in areas such as education, mental health, employment and poverty. Earlier this week, as part of this Race Disparity Audit, the government launched a new “Ethnicity Facts and Figures” website to allow it to document the “different experiences of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds”.  The facts and figures, which the government has gathered from census information, official statistics, government surveys and administrative records of government departments, show disparities in areas such as employment, education, treatment by police and courts, and health between ethnicities. It is important to note that much of the data used was not specifically gathered with this type of audit in mind and that it varies in quality and depth.

The ‘gig economy’ model was dealt another blow earlier this week after yet another tribunal ruling that the so-called “self-employed” were in fact workers.

A large proportion of people in the UK now work on a part-time basis. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 8.55 million people working part-time at the end of 2016, an increase of 84,000 on the year before. With many people working more flexibly, employers face challenges with regard to how to manage these different working arrangements in practice.

Last year there was significant publicity about a decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Barbelescu whereby the rejection of the claim was widely described as a charter for employers to snoop on their employees at work. Following an appeal however Mr Barbelescu’s claim that his right to privacy at work had been violated has just been upheld.

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