Changes to the 2010 Equality Act: Marshall’s point-of-view
Changes to 2010 Equality Act provision were criticised by TUC General Secretary, Brendan Rogers in a recent HR Magazine article, whilst a government spokesperson said they would ‘sweep away needless bureaucracy’.
We asked Marshall ACM’s consultants Ann Allcock and Vernal Scott about their views on the removal of third party harassment provision and plans to repeal the powers of tribunals to make wider recommendations.
Vernal felt that record keeping should remain good practice despite the legislative changes:
“I am disappointed with this development, especially as the consultation closed on 7 August and a formal response has not yet been published.
On behalf of Marshall I would remind everyone that frugal record keeping can often serve to protect the good employer, and that fact should remain at the forefront of our minds.
We should continue to treat employees and customers with dignity and respect, and to keep accurate records of all incidents of actual or alleged harassment as matter of good practice, whether it’s law or not. Marshall is happy to offer advice where needed.
Sadly, current news stories relate alleged behaviour that went unchallenged and unrecorded for decades. Frugal record keeping of this behaviour would have aided police investigations.
Recorded information is important, and a good employer will ensure these practices are enhanced, not curtailed, for the sake of all concerned.
Lastly, a good employee will want to focus on being just that, and not on potential tribunals that may never happen. If they do, then written evidence will likely aid rather than hinder your defence.”
Ann focused on the possible impact the changes could have on front-line staff working in the community: “The government’s decision to repeal certain parts of the Equality Act is unwelcome news.
Empowering tribunals to make wider recommendations to employers as a result of consideration of specific harassment and discrimination cases was a very positive step to help challenge disrespectful and unfair workplace cultures and practices, but the importance of this opportunity does not seem to have been recognised or understood.
Our work with client organisations, particularly in the public sector, has highlighted the value of the third party harassment provisions in circumstances where front-line staff deliver services in challenging circumstances in the community – again, it appears that the provisions that offer protection for these staff will be short-lived.
However, irrespective of the legal context, all organisations can take their own steps to ensure that internal policies and culture are inclusive and strike the appropriate balance between rights and responsibilities, and Marshall ACM can provide support and advice where this would be helpful.”
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