Workplace Rights

Every workplace should have a comprehensive set of policies detailing employer obligations and employee rights.

Dealing with workplace rights

As lawyers, we believe in proactive help for employers so they might avoid legal problems from happening. As solicitors, we draft policy documents that are customised to your needs and your industry so as to improve workplaces all round and to protect against claims.

Policies might usefully cover complaints, discipline, social media, emails, website access, phone calls, harassment, bullying, workplace discrimination, leave, occupational health and safety, unique risk management issues, emergency procedures, and termination of employment.

An anti-bullying policy is essential for any workplace. An employee (or contractor) is bullied when someone acts unreasonably toward them on repeated occasions and such behaviour puts their health and safety at risk. Click here for more information about bullying.

Employees must not be dismissed from their employment harshly, unjustly or unreasonably. A specific policy should be in place to ensure that the processes for discipline of employees, performance management and dismissal from employment are fair and transparent.

Similarly, the circumstances of and process for making an employee redundant should also be set out in a policy. It is essential that the position in the workplace be no longer required for commercial reason rather than the particular employee being fired. The whole redundancy process must be genuine and be conducted objectively, fairly and reasonably, failing which an employee could contend they had been unfairly dismissed.

In the workplace, employees have a right to work without unwelcome sexual behaviour (whether physical, verbal or written) such as could be expected to make them feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Detail can be found here. A written policy is essential, as employers are under a positive duty to eliminate such behaviour proactively rather than to just respond to complaints. In failing to have a policy or to enforce a policy or to mishandle a complaint, employers can be made liable alongside the actual perpetrator of the sexual harassment. Compensation is increasing.

Similarly, an employee cannot be victimised in a workplace. That is, no-one can punish or threaten to punish an employee for merely exercising their legal rights or taking action about their work or workplace. A policy is essential. You can find more information here.

Fundamentally, all employees (and contractors) have certain ‘protected attributes’ and employers (and head contractors) must not take any ‘adverse action’ against employees (and contractors) which cause detriment in respect to such attributes.

All employees (and contractors) are protected:

  • When exercising a workplace right (for example: seeking an entitlement, or making an enquiry or instigating a complaint)
  • When involved with a union or participating in industrial activities
  • When discriminated against unlawfully (for example: on the basis of race, disability, religion, pregnancy, age and the like) or
  • When negotiating individual arrangements.

With these protected rights, employers (or head contractors) must not:

  • Take adverse action (for example: by dismissing an employee, ending a contract for services or discriminating)
  • Coerce someone not to exercise a workplace right, for example
  • Make any false or misleading representation about the employee or contractor’s workplace rights, for example, or
  • Exert any undue influence or pressure on an employee to change their conditions of employment or job description to their detriment.

Can we assist you with issues relating to workplace rights?

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