1. A ‘lack of human dignity’ afforded to transgender client hits the headlines

Last week saw media headlines on an Employment Tribunal (ET) ruling upholding a doctor’s dismissal following his refusal to use preferred pronouns of transgender clients due to his religious beliefs. The ET found that this was “incompatible with human dignity” and a direct conflict with the fundamental rights of transgender individuals. Whilst the ET recognised that the doctor was entitled to hold his religious beliefs, the issue was “whether he was entitled to manifest those beliefs in the circumstances”. The ET determined no. The doctor has indicated that he will be appealing.

Action: Many workplaces will have employees who are either transgender or who have transgender friends, family members or clients who would be adversely impacted by transphobic practices. Employees want an inclusive workplace that openly values and supports all staff, regardless of their gender identity. We have produced a guide to take you through the key considerations and actions for employers in creating a culture where transgender employees are valued and supported and the risk of discrimination or other unacceptable behaviours is reduced. Employers must remain alert to situations, such as here, where despite internal equality training, an employee’s beliefs are such that they consider they conflict with their work and right to free speech. Please contact Danielle Kingdon or your usual OC contact for more information.

2. #metoopay: a new push on gender pay

Last week saw the launch of the #metoopay campaign led by over 100 business women which, like the current sexual harassment #metoo campaign, seeks to harness the power of social media and the internet. They have put together a ‘hub for action’ – a place to “keep up to date on the latest stories of pay discrimination, learn about crucial court cases, and a place to share good and bad policies in action”. The campaign calls for ‘radical and rapid’ action as women receiving less pay than men is just wrong.

Action: Employers must be prepared for pay practices to be challenged. With the third gender pay gap reporting deadline approaching on 5 April 2020, now is a good time to check any initiatives identified in last year’s report are being taken forward, as well as ensuring appropriate training is in place for those making hiring and remuneration decisions to avoid conscious or unconscious bias. High risk areas of the business should also be audited and appropriate actions identified. The CIPD has released a report ‘Building inclusive workplaces’ which emphasises the need for employers to focus on how an employee experiences their workplace, not just how it looks. Pay is certainly one factor which many employees will use to judge their workplace experience.

3. IR35 | Six months to go: are you ready?

With only six months until the IR35 reforms are scheduled to take effect, many end users, staffing companies and consultancy companies are deciding how they are going to respond to the IR35 reforms scheduled for April 2020. Plans are being developed to shift everyone to PAYE or engage contractors on a statement of work, (i.e. a deliverables based supply) or push all contractor engagements via umbrellas or to use third parties to assess status. We are also helping investors and lenders work out where this will leave affected companies in terms of profitability. In adopting a course of action, care will need to be taken to ensure the full impact is understood – there will inevitably be financial, risk and resourcing repercussions flowing from a chosen path.