Valentines Day and the immediate aftermath can cause chaos within the workplace. For example, is it acceptable to send a colleague a Valentines card, or could you leave yourself and your employer open to claims of sexual harassment? On the other hand, have you received a Valentines card or messages which you feel are too much? Set out below is some guidance on what the law says, along with some practical guidance.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 “the Act” provides a definition of harassment, for the full section see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/26. For the purposes of this blog, I have only summarised the main points relevant to sexual harassment.
- Harassment can include any unwanted conduct relating to sex which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
- Harassment can include unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
- Harassment can also occur when a person engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or that is related to gender reassignment or sex which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment AND because of a person’s rejection of or submission to the conduct, they are treated less favourably that they would have been if they had not rejected or submitted to the conduct.
What Can You Do?
- If asking the perpetrator to stop does not work, then in the first instance speak to your Line Manager to try and informally resolve the situation. If your Line Manager is involved, then elevate to the next available Manager. It may also be wise at this early opportunity to contact your trade union, your HR department, any internal wellbeing or counselling services, ACAS, the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Human Rights Commission for support in getting the situation resolved and the harassment stopped.
- If an informal approach does not work then review your employer’s formal policies and procedures to see if they have a Grievance Procedure, Dignity at Work Procedure or Bullying & Harassment Procedure (or other). You should then follow the appropriate procedure which will usually require you to submit a written complaint about the treatment you are receiving, along with how you would like to see it resolving. Your employer should then investigate your complaint and provide a suitable outcome. Again, obtain support throughout this process from any of the sources listed under the preceding bullet point. Similarly, the solicitors at LincsLaw all have extensive experience of advising employees through internal processes such as these.
- If the formal approach does not work, you may seek redress in the Employment Tribunal by submitting a claim under the Equality Act 2010 for sexual harassment and / or victimisation. Please remember that internal policies or procedures may take some time to conclude, but a claim for sexual harassment or victimisation must be submitted to the Employment Tribunal no later than 3 months less 1 day from the date of the actual act complained of. Ensure you take appropriate legal advice so your limitation date is not missed.
Assistance From LincsLaw Solicitors?
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Tel: 01522 568410
I was delighted to help my client with her claim for sex discrimination against her employer. My client was a lovely lady who had returned to work following a period of maternity leave. She had a job she loved and had been looking forward to going back to work. She had requested a change in her hours which her employer’s Human Resources Department had been happy to agree.
Unfortunately, what had been agreed with the company’s central office had not been properly communicated to my client’s Line Manager. He referred to himself as ‘old school’ and expressed his unhappiness with the working arrangements my client had agreed. He insisted upon my client working the same hours she had worked prior to her maternity leave. Attempts to reason with him were unsuccessful and providing written evidence of the changes agreed with Human Resources was, in his words, ‘irrelevant’.
My client got Human Resources involved. Unfortunately, rather than supporting her, they withdrew the agreed changes to her hours of work and supported the Manager. My client was simply unable to continue working for her employer. Even if she had wished to do so, she did not have the childcare arrangements in place which would enable her to return to work for the hours her manager wanted. She explained this to her manager who became abusive and subjected her to a lecture on why, in his view, no one should employ women.
When I first met with my client she was in a state of some distress. She explained that she really did not see a way of returning to work for the company. Apart from anything else, the behaviour of Human Resources in reneging upon previous agreements and siding with her Manager left her concerned as to the future. She had no trust and confidence that she would be able to continue working for the company. My instructions were therefore straightforward, I was to obtain the most advantageous compensation possible and obtain the best reference I could so that she could find a position with a new employer.
Unsurprisingly given the circumstances of the matter, negotiations did not take very long. I managed to achieve a compensation package which has enabled my client to take a year off to spend time with her new baby. She was delighted and I was very happy to have helped.
If you are experiencing problems at work, call me for a free telephone consultation on 01522 539501. Alternatively, for more information about Lincs Law Solicitors, please visit our website at www.lincslaw.co.uk.
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Solicitors, Lincoln
I recently assisted a client negotiate a significant increase (almost double) to the compensation she received under the terms of a Settlement Agreement offered by her employer. A summary of Miss X’s story is set out below.
Miss X had been experiencing some very serious difficulties at work and had raised a grievance. Rather than support Miss X to resolve her difficulties through the grievance procedure, the company offered her a payment to leave, so long as she signed a Settlement Agreement. Miss X came to see me to go through the terms of the Agreement that had been offered.
My client was pretty downbeat when she first came to see me. She believed she had been made a good offer by the company and had no choice but to take it. She wasn’t totally wrong. The offer wasn’t completely unreasonable. However, my client was giving up a lengthy period of employment and she had done nothing to warrant her removal from the business. Her situation gave rise to a number of options, and one of those options including negotiating on the compensation payment and terms that had been offered.
Miss X took some time to consider her position before instructing me to negotiate on her behalf. After a short time and a good measure of bravery by my client in holding her nerve, I was pleased to be able to report that we almost doubled the compensation she received.
My client was delighted by the outcome and has already referred me to friends. I was also pleased to receive their personal feedback of “I have no hesitation in giving out recommendations for Lincs Law as what you did to help me was excellent”
If you have been offered a Settlement Agreement or have any employment law problems, LincsLaw Solicitors can help. Please call on 01522 539501 or 01522 568410 to arrange a Fixed Fee Consultation or visit our website www.lincslaw.co.uk for more information about the services we provide.
Sophie Goodwill, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
A gentleman came to see me a few weeks ago. He explained his employer had offered him a Settlement Agreement with a compensation package if he would agree to resign his employment. If he didn’t sign the Settlement Agreement and agree to terminate his employment, then he would be subjected to his employer’s Performance Management Procedure.
We discussed the performance issues his employer had raised and whether the procedure was something he needed to be worried about. He explained he had been working for the company for over 20 years. His work had never been criticised and, in fact, in any objective assessment of his performance he was meeting all targets. He explained the current situation had arisen following a new director joining the company. The new director had already pushed out a number of staff and replaced them with colleagues he had worked with before. My client believed he was the latest in a long line.
In the circumstances, I explained to my client that he had nothing to fear from a Performance Management Procedure and, in fact, his manager would be very unwise to start such a process. He stated he had been offered a job elsewhere and didn’t want to remain with his current employer. My instructions were to renegotiate his Settlement Agreement and get him as large an increase as possible in his financial compensation. He was delighted when we finally agreed an amount which was more than double his employer’s original offer.
I was pleased to have helped but surprised by how frightened my client had been about the threatened Performance Management Procedure. It occurred to me that others may be in a similar situation and I set out below some general rules which would help anyone subjected to a Performance Management Process:-
1. Prepare Yourself
If you are invited to a performance management meeting get a copy of your job description, any procedure your employer is using, any appraisals or supervision notes, any positive feedback from colleagues or customers, in fact anything you can use to dispute your employer’s criticisms. If you have any concerns about the person reviewing your performance, raise them straightaway.
2. Make Your Employer Be Specific
Employers like to be vague when they suggest you are not performing. However, if you are genuinely failing to meet the requirements of your job description, they should be able to tell you how and why. Ask for specific examples, ask what you should have done and make sure you know what (if any) improvement is needed. Keep referring back to your job description and make sure what you are being criticised for is actually part of your job.
3. Performance Review Period
Once your employer has explained the problems, they should give you the opportunity to improve. Make sure you know exactly what is expected. If you don’t consider their targets or expectations to be reasonable, you should say so and suggest your own objectives going forward. You should ensure that any concerns you have about future targets are recorded in the minutes of your meetings. Also, ask for any additional training or assistance you might need.
4. Prepare Yourself Again!
Make sure you go to your Performance Review Meeting fully prepared. Gather your evidence of the work you have done since your first meeting. If you were not given the training you asked for, take along the evidence of your requests. If you haven’t been able to meet targets, explain why and make sure you take your evidence.
Let us help
For most employees, these procedures will come to an end after the first review meeting. However, for others, the process might be used by their employers to try and pressure them into resigning, accepting a Settlement Agreement or fast track them towards a dismissal. Depending upon the criticisms, it might even be discriminatory (for example, criticising the performance of a disabled member of staff without considering reasonable adjustments).
If you are facing a Performance Management Process, please ring for a free, no obligation, telephone consultation on 01522 539501. Alternatively, for more information about who we are at LincsLaw Solicitors and what we do, please visit our website at www.lincslaw.co.uk.
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
LincsLaw Solicitors, Lincoln
At LincsLaw Solicitors, we know that starting an Employment Tribunal claim is a big decision for our clients. It is not a decision to be taken lightly and an early assessment of your situation by a qualified employment law solicitor will avoid stressful (and costly) mistakes. If you are going through the ACAS Early Conciliation procedure or thinking of an Employment Tribunal claim, make sure you consider:-
Are there jurisdictional issues?
Some types of claim require you to have worked for your employer for a minimum period before you can claim. In addition, most claims have time limits within which you will need to issue your claim. If you have started the ACAS Early Conciliation procedure, the time limit can sometimes be extended. However, it is important to ensure you are not going to have difficulties of this nature, otherwise you could find your claim is lost before it has even started.
What are your chances of winning your Employment Tribunal claim?
You need to be realistic about your prospects. Your employment solicitor should be able to help by discussing the aspects of your claim and what you will have to prove to be successful.
What is your Employment Tribunal claim worth?
Whilst I appreciate compensation may not be the driver to start proceedings, an assessment of your potential award by your employment solicitor allows you to make an informed decision.
What are your funding options?
The best way to fund your claim also needs to be considered. Your employment solicitor should be able to discuss with you the benefits and drawbacks of the different types of funding including Legal Expenses Insurance, “No win, No fee”, Conditional Fees, Fixed Fees etc
Call 01522 539501 for a free consultation or visit our website at www.lincslaw.co.uk
Employment Solicitor, Lincoln
Choosing an employment lawyer to help you with your workplace problem is difficult. As solicitors we write blogs, we provide profiles, we write articles etc to demonstrate we have specialist knowledge and this can help narrow down your choice. At LincsLaw we are also happy to provide a free telephone consultation so you can have confidence in the person you are going to be working with before you commit yourself financially.
Despite the above, are you still sure you are making the right choice? This is where reviews and referrals from previous clients who have had problems at work can help. For my reviews (which are independently verified by a third party) please visit https://www.vouchedfor.co.uk/solicitor/lincoln/27232-sally-hubbard
Hopefully the above has helped you make your choice. For more information or a free, no obligation, telephone consultation please call 01522 539501. Alternatively, please visit our website at www.lincslaw.co.uk
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor