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Setting the right tone

first_imgEmployees in the UK are becoming more familiar with their right to maintaindignity in the working environment. But what exactly does this broad conceptmean, and what should employers be doing about it? Katie Jackson-Turner and JoeGlavina reportWhen an employee complains about his dignity at work – or more accuratelythe lack of it – the complaint usually relates to some kind of harassment orbullying. In general terms it is treatment the individual finds intimidating, hostile,offensive or disturbing. Usually it is meted out intentionally towards anindividual but it can, equally, be a complaint relating to an unpleasant andhostile working environment. For example, sexually explicit material which isnow readily available to many employees on the Internet can easily bedownloaded and disseminated in the workplace by e-mail or more conventionalmeans. Such material could be sent directly to an individual or circulatedindiscriminately. Either way it may form the basis of a complaint for which theemployer may be liable. There is, of course, a raft of equal opportunities legislation in the UKgeared to addressing the issue of dignity at work. It is unlawful for employersto treat a person less favourably on the ground of his or her sex (SexDiscrimination Act 1975) or race (Race Relations Act 1976) or disability(Disability Discrimination Act 1995). Indeed, there was even a specific pieceof legislation covering the subject – the Dignity at Work Bill – which was puttogether by the MSF Union in 1997 and steered by Lord Monkswell through theHouse of Lords in December 1997 and January 1998. Attempts to introduce the Bill into the House of Commons, the first stepbefore a Bill can become law, was blocked by John Major’ s ConservativeGovernment in February 1997. Shortly afterwards a general election wasannounced and the Dignity at Work Bill has been on hold ever since. However,its failure to reach the statute books has not exactly left a hole in thisimportant area of social policy because it did little more than repeat andhighlight existing measures on equal opportunities. One of the reasons for the significant increase in interest in this areaover recent years is the fact that there are no upper limits on awards made underany of the discrimination statutes. The removal of the cap on compensation thatcan be awarded for discrimination claims has led to more claims being broughtand has forced employers to take such claims more seriously. Employees areincreasingly aware of their right to dignity at work and are more willing totake action to protect their rights. This is partly due to the media interestin high-profile cases and reports of compensation running to hundreds ofthousands of pounds. Harassment Although the word “harassment” does not actually appear in any ofthe anti-discrimination legislation, the Acts state that it is unlawful todiscriminate against an employee by subjecting him or her to a detriment. Ithas been accepted by the courts that harassment, provided it is notparticularly minor, will constitute a detriment. So while cases occasionally turn on whether the harassment in question issufficiently serious to amount to a detriment, normally the key question iswhether it amounts to discrimination. For the reasons already mentioned, thenumber of discrimination claims being brought in the employment tribunals hasbeen rising steadily and is set to continue. Harassment takes many forms, occurs on a variety of different grounds andcan be directed at one person or many people. An essential characteristic isthat it is unwanted by the recipient and that the recipient finds the conductoffensive or unacceptable. Conduct becomes harassment if it is persisted inonce it has been made clear that it is regarded by the recipient as offensive,although a single incident may amount to harassment if sufficiently serious. Itis the unwanted nature of the conduct which distinguishes harassment fromfriendly behaviour which is welcome and mutual. Employers’ defence? All three discrimination Acts state that an employer is liable for anyunlawful discrimination carried out by its employees during the course of theiremployment, unless the employer can show that it has taken such steps as werereasonably practicable to prevent those acts. Therefore, an employer who doesnot try to prevent harassment taking place may find that it is liable for thedamage done by a harassment campaign by one of its employees. In most casesemployers should be able to point to their equal opportunities policy as goodevidence of their attempts to combat harassment and other forms ofdiscrimination. Certainly, there should be a procedure in place for dealingwith allegations of harassment. In some instances, tribunals have found dismissals to be unfair because theemployer did not follow its own procedure. There should be someone thatemployees can approach if they are being harassed and they should be able tofeel that any complaint that they make will be dealt with fairly and promptly.Managers should be trained so they can try to create a working environment freefrom harassment. They should be able to recognise harassment and they shouldknow how to deal with the problem. Dignity – a broad concept Although harassment is perhaps the most obvious way a person’ s dignity atwork might be undermined, dignity at work is a broad concept which includesareas such as the right to privacy and the right to respect for family life.These are new and developing areas of employment law and difficult areas foremployers to manage. Balancing the employee’ s right to privacy against the employer’s need toensure that, for example, its e-mail and Internet facilities are not beingmisused is difficult. Legislation introduced in October last year (the Regulationof Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and associated Regulations) prohibitsemployers from snooping or eavesdropping on their employees’ telephoneconversations and e-mail exchanges unless in certain specific circumstances. Inaddition under the Human Rights Act 1998 we all have a right to privacy. While as a general rule, employees will not be able to sue their employerdirectly under the HRA, an employer who has breached any of the new “humanrights” will have difficulty justifying its behaviour before an employmenttribunal. As a consequence, constructive dismissal claims which in the pasthave been difficult to bring successfully are more likely to succeed. Respect for family life was one of the themes the Labour Party campaigned onin its election manifesto prior to being elected to Government. Since then wehave seen the introduction of a host of new legislation designed to protect theright to respect for family life. For example, for the first time part-timeworkers, fathers who want to take parental leave, and parents or carers whoneed time off work to deal with domestic emergencies are directly protected bythe law. In addition maternity rights have been extended and will be furtherextended in the future. Personal injury In serious cases of harassment and/or bullying the victim may suffer eitherphysical or psychiatric injury. As the Court of Appeal has recently confirmed,in this type of case when an employment tribunal awards compensation for theunlawful discrimination (uncapped), it also has jurisdiction to award damagesfor both the physical and psychiatric injury. This is an attractive course of action for employees because it means theyare free to pursue compensation for their personal injuries without havingrecourse to the usual civil courts. This avoids the risk of having to pay theemployer’ s costs in the event of the action proving unsuccessful. From the employer’ s point of view there is an important practical point in relationto settling claims of this type. When it comes to settling claims, it is commonfor employees’ advisers to ask for all personal injury claims to be”carved out” of the compromise agreement. However, there is no reasonwhy personal injury claims of this type, brought on the back of adiscrimination claim, cannot be settled. n Katie Jackson-Turner and Joe Glavina are solicitors in the employmentdepartment of Addleshaw Booth & Co Dignity, European styleSince the election of the Labour Governmentthe UK has become more willing to embrace European directives designed torecognise and protect the right to dignity at work for all member states’employees. Age discrimination in employment (December 2006), discrimination ongrounds of sexual orientation and discrimination on grounds of religion orbelief (December 2003) are to be barred by the new EU Equal Treatment FrameworkDirective which represents the most important European discriminationlegislation in the last quarter of a century.The Directive states that harassment shall be deemed to be aform of discrimination “when unwanted conduct … takes place with thepurpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and (our emphasis) ofcreating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensiveenvironment”. This is a more stringent test than currently applies underUK sex and race discrimination law, where only a showing of detrimentaltreatment is required. It means that when the Directive is implemented, thosecomplaining of harassment on the newly introduced grounds (sexual orientation,age or religion) are likely to be better off bringing a complaint that theywere subjected to a detriment generally than by using any special provisionsrelating to harassment. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Setting the right toneOn 1 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Jack Wilshere wants to stay at Arsenal, hopeful of new deal soon

first_imgArsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is looking forward to extending his stay at the North London club and is hoping of finalising a new deal in the coming weeks.Wilshere will be out of contract in June 2018 but said he was confident that a new deal will be figured out and agreed to soon.Wilshere has progressed through Arsenal’s youth system and made his senior debut in 2008. For the past nine years he has been with Arsene Wenger at the Premier League club and has played 175 matches.”I definitely want to be here,” Wilshere told Sky Sports News. “I’m enjoying my football and I love playing in the Premier League now and I want to help Arsenal get to where they should be.”We just have to sort things out and I’m sure that will happen in the next couple of weeks and it will be sorted.”Wilshere’s career has been hampered by serious injuries with the latest being a calf injury sustained in April. The Englishman returned to action in August and has since made 15 appearances for Arsenal this campaign.The 25-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth, has started two league games this season and said regular game time was his priority, hoping to earn a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the 2018 World Cup.”The biggest thing for any footballer, and even more so for me because of the games missed in the past, is that you are playing,” Wilshere added.”I think I’ve proved to myself that I can play in the Premier League and I trust my body again and that I can affect games. I can have a positive effect on this team and then maybe we’ll see if the England manager picks me.advertisement”I’m just focused on the game on Friday, I’m in a good place mentally at the minute. I want to continue improving my form, affecting the team and help to get into the top four and challenge for trophies.”Arsenal, who are fifth in the league, host fierce rivals Liverpool, who are a point and a place ahead, on Friday.(Courtesy: Reuters)last_img read more

Tropical Storm Grace DDME Remembers Hurricane Ike

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 06 Sept 2015 – NEW Tropical Storm is now formed in the Atlantic and current trajectory puts it on a similar path as TS Erika.TS Grace, as she’s called is moving toward the west near 15 mph and a continued general westward motion with some increase in forward speed is expected over the next 48 hours.The Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies in the TCI says it is gearing up the week to commemorate the 7th year since devastating Hurricane Ike. TCI: More active Hurricane Season predicted and DDME gives thorough update on its readiness Turks and Caicos is first to add Disaster Management to the Tourism portfolio Related Items:DDME, tropical storm grace Recommended for you TCI: Hard-working DDME lauded as Hurricane Preparedness Month officially openedlast_img read more

Defense Bill Removes Hurdles for BRAC Sites to Take Advantage of HUBZone

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The conference report for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill provides a tremendous boost to base redevelopment projects attempting to attract tenants interested in qualifying for the Small Business Administration’s HUBZone program.Two key changes in the legislation, unveiled Tuesday by leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, would make it significantly easier for companies to meet the eligibility requirements of the HUBZone program — an initiative offering preferential access to federal procurements to businesses in distressed areas.One change would expand the boundaries of BRAC-related HUBZones beyond the actual base, allowing businesses to hire employees from surrounding areas to meet the program’s requirement for 35 percent of a participant’s workers to live within a HUBZone. The new language allows firms to draw employees from census tracts contiguous to the base, as well as from a second ring of census tracts touching the first ring.Without the change, companies hoping to take advantage of BRAC-related HUBZones needed to find employees living on the former base, a requirement that is virtually unattainable.The legislative change also means companies would be able to take advantage of a BRAC-related HUBZone by locating beyond a closed installation’s boundaries.The change would help base redevelopment projects attract HUBZone participants as well as help the surrounding communities affected by a base closure attract companies looking to participate in the SBA program, explained Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the LRA transforming the former Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine into Brunswick Landing.The legislation also would extend to eight years — and longer in some cases — the period for which a BRAC-impacted community is designated a HUBZone. Bases that had been designated a HUBZone as of 2010 would retain their status until at least 2020. The extension from five years is needed because it typically takes at least several years for a military service to transfer ownership of an installation after it is formally closed.The new language is a significant improvement, said Levesque. “This is an actual tool that really works for all the communities affected by the 2005 base closure round,” he said.The changes also mark a major victory for ADC, which worked closely with the House and Senate Defense Communities caucuses to realize the relaxed eligibility requirements for BRAC-related HUBZone sites. Maine’s congressional delegation deserves much of the credit. Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) introduced standalone legislation this year that was incorporated into the Senate version of the authorization bill. Earlier Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) sponsored an amendment which was added to the House version.“This bill takes a significant step forward in improving the HUBZone program for rural communities,” King said in a press release. “By revamping the eligibility criteria, towns and cities that have been hit hard by base closures will be better positioned to revitalize those former bases, jump start economic development, attract businesses, and create new jobs.”last_img read more