New employment rights and developments include:

Discrimination

  • The Employment Appeals Tribunal held that an employer which only took limited steps in response to an employee’s complaint that she had been racially abused at work by a third party, was not liable for race discrimination or harassment under the Race Relations Act. Although a hostile environment initially created by a third party could be exacerbated by an employer if it fails to take appropriate action to ameliorate the position “on grounds of race” (and liability will then attach), this was not the case on the facts.

Retirement

  • In March, the government published draft Regulations abolishing the default retirement age. The draft contained a number of errors and has been replaced by a recently published second draft. The second draft Regulations are very complex but seem to allow employers to retire employees lawfully by giving notice of retirement by 5 April 2011 for employees who will be 65 or over by 30 September 2011. Employees will be allowed to request to work past retirement - special provisions deal with the making of such requests and the aftermath, in the event an employer agrees to a request.

Working time

  • The Employment Appeals Tribunal held that where an employee cannot enjoy a “rest break”, s/he should be given a compensatory break which may take one of many forms as long as it is of the same duration. Where a compensatory break is not possible, an appropriate alternative can be provided.  

Religion or belief

  • An Employment Tribunal held (on the specific facts of this case), that anti fox-hunting and anti hare-coursing beliefs, based on a belief in the “sanctity of life”, amounted to protected “philosophical beliefs”. (Hashman v Milton Park (Dorset) Ltd)