February Legal Update

Supporting transgender employees in the workplace

Stonewall urges organisations to adopt a zero tolerance position towards gender reassignment discrimination or harassment after a report found many transgender employees hide their gender identity.

In case law, the European Court of Human Rights finds an organisation’s covert surveillance at work infringed employees’ privacy rights.

Survey shows employees hide gender identity

A survey commissioned by Stonewall, a leading LGBT charity, has shown that one in eight transgender employees has reported an attack by a customer or colleague, and “alarming” numbers have been subject to discrimination at work. The survey also found that transgender employees are disguising their gender identity in order to protect themselves. A zero tolerance stance to discrimination is needed, says Stonewall. 

Council extends maternity leave for employees with premature babies

Further to recent campaigns from premature baby groups, Waltham Forest Council has taken the step of offering extended maternity and paternity leave to employees whose premature baby has to spend a period of time in hospital. The effect of this entirely voluntary measure is to ensure that mothers are still able to take a maximum 52 weeks’ maternity leave at home to bond with the baby, rather than having a sometimes significant period of that leave taken up by accompanying the baby in hospital. 

Fawcett Society urges the Government to enhance discrimination laws

A number of reforms should be made to the existing framework of discrimination against women, the Fawcett Society says. A recent report by the Society has criticised the extent of current protection and calls for changes in the following areas:

  • pay – the Society recommends that the service qualification for statutory maternity pay be removed; and an extension of the current gender pay gap reporting requirement to smaller companies
  • leave – introduction of a right to reasonable time off for breastfeeding mothers and
  • harassment – bringing back the requirement on organisations to protect workers against 3rd party harassment.

Case law

A Spanish organisation breached its employees’ human rights when it set up covert surveillance in response to suspicions of theft, the European Court of Human Rights has found.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that an employee was unfairly dismissed upon the termination of her fixed-term contract because her employer did not consider offering her any other vacancies nor did it allow an appeal.

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