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The aim of mediation in the workplace is to restore and maintain the working relationship if at all possible.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential form of alternative dispute resolution. It involves an independent, impartial third party helping two or more individuals or groups to reach a solution that works and is acceptable for everyone.

The focus is therefore on finding a way to work together going forward, not dwelling on what has happened in the past and who is to blame.

Resolutions made by way of mediation are not legally binding and there won’t be a judgment enforced on the parties. The benefit of mediation is that it allows the parties to agree much more creative ways of settling their dispute. Instead of being bound by legal principles and the main remedy in the courts of financial compensation, with the assistance of a mediator, the parties can reach a resolution that they are happy with, which might include an apology, training, a structured payment or renegotiation of a contract.

Furthermore, where a grievance has arisen in the workplace, the use of an impartial third party mediator to try to resolve the issues is recommended in the ACAS Code of Practice, and therefore taking part in mediation can help you to show that you have complied with the Code if you need to in any subsequent claim.

At Banner Jones, we are more than happy to be able to refer our clients to specially trained mediators who are experts at resolving disputes that arise in the workplace.

Can I be forced to attend work if a member of my household is a vulnerable person?

If you are living with a person who is pregnant, elderly, or suffering with a disability that means they are in a high risk group, your employer should consider adjustments, such as enabling you to work from home. If your employer still forces you to go to work, you may have a claim for constructive/unfair dismissal, particularly if your work environment does not have social distancing measures in place.

Can I be made redundant when on furlough leave?

Yes. You could be made redundant during or after furlough leave. However, employers are obliged to follow strict procedures when making employees redundant to ensure that you are treated fairly. They must still follow the same procedure if you are on furlough leave.

Can I request to be furloughed?

You can request to be placed on furlough leave, but the decision is ultimately your employer’s. If you have a condition that puts you at high risk, such as a particular disability, it would be reasonable for your employer to consider placing you on furlough leave, if this is what you have requested. Failure to act reasonably and fairly in such a scenario could mean you have a claim for discrimination. 

Can I work for my employer whilst on furlough leave?

You must not undertake any work that generates revenue for your employer or provides services to them. You can however, undertake training.

Can my employer dismiss me if I do not want to return to the office?

This will depend on your personal circumstances and the nature of your job role. For example, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal and discrimination if you are dismissed whilst ‘shielding’ following government advice, and you are able to carry out your work from home.

Can my employer reduce my salary?

Unless your employer has specified in your employment contract that it can reduce your salary, then no. If your employer proposes to reduce your pay, they must obtain your agreement. If your employer has reduced your wages without your consent, you may have a claim for unlawful deduction of wages and / or constructive dismissal if you chose to resign .

Do we have to do anything else in our recruitment adverts?

You need to be able to justify if you are asking for certain levels of experience. Advertising for a bus driver who is safe and has had previous experience is one thing advertising for a bus driver with 10 years’ experience is another. The first option leaves your job advert open for all ages to apply. The second rules out individuals who may be in their early twenties.

 Other points to consider when recruiting new employees:

  • Ensure whoever is interviewing potential employee’s scores interviewees on their skills and competencies as opposed to their age.
  • Although they are not discriminatory themselves consider removing any reference to age on your job application forms.
  • Don’t ask a potential employee for a physical fitness test unless you require them. 

Once you have selected an appropriate employee ensure managers and staff are trained to monitor and avoid any discriminatory behaviour. Also make sure it is clear within any policies you have that discrimination in any form is unacceptable. Ensure managers are fully trained in diversity issues and that they are able to deal with discriminatory issues that arise within the workplace.

Do we need to worry about these requirements if we employ people in their 50’s and 60’s?

Yes you need to be aware of these requirements if you employ anyone of any age. They affect every area of employment as well as the recruitment and selection process. The requirements not only make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age but also harassment whether it be intentional or unintentional or to victimise an individual. 

You need to worry not only about your own actions but also your fellow employees who must be discouraged from making offensive or unkind comments about age or anything in between.

 As with other areas of discrimination if your employee can demonstrate that there has been a difference in treatment which is due to discrimination it is solely down to you the employer to show otherwise or for you to prove that you have done everything in your power to stop such discrimination. There are no limits to discrimination awards and often they include an aspect for suffering, failure to do so can be expensive. 

 

How does age discrimination requirements effect the recruitment process?

When you are recruiting employees you need to ensure you are not discriminating for or against anyone due to their age. This means you cannot advertise specific age requirements in any of your job adverts unless you can justify them.

How much will I be paid on furlough leave?

This will depend on what you agree with your employer. Under the CJRS, HMRC will pay 80% of your wages (subject to a cap of £2,500). Provided your employer does not have a contractual right to reduce pay in your employment contract, if your employer intends to only pay you 80% of your wages, they would need your agreement to do so.

What are the conditions of age discrimination?

In 2011 legislation new legislation was introduced making it unlawful to treat anyone differently due to their age except if it could be justified or falls within one of the exemptions to the law. The retirement age of 65 has now been phased out meaning employers can now only forcibly retire workers if it can be justified.  

 

What year did the requirements of age discrimination come into effect?

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations came into effect in October 2006. The retirement age of 65 was phased out between April 2011 and October 2011.

Will I also receive my usual commission during furlough leave?

If your commission is contractual, then yes (subject to above). If not, your employer will not have to pay you commission you would usually earn.

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