September 24, 2020
McGuireWoods London associate Adam Penman wrote three September articles on significant UK employment law issues.
His Sept. 10, 2020, article in People Management magazine provided an update on legal developments in gender reassignment discrimination. Though gender reassignment is covered by the Equality Act 2010, which legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, discrimination against transgender people remains commonplace.
Penman outlined three recent cases that have shone light on gender reassignment issues, particularly in respect of recruitment and equal opportunity policies and the balance between freedom of expression outside the workplace and protection of those who have undergone gender reassignment.
In another People Management article, published Sept. 18, 2020, Penman examined employer considerations for avoiding coronavirus-related discrimination claims.
As businesses determine their responses during the pandemic, there is an overarching legal obligation to ensure responses do not adversely directly or indirectly affect employees because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
Penman wrote that the “key for employers is to assess all foreseeable risks and mitigation measures, taking into account any disproportionate effects on certain groups of workers and to plan and consult with those workers accordingly.”
In a Sept. 15, 2020, article for Personnel Today, Penman explained that employers should take care when making redundancy decisions during the COVID-19 crisis recession.
The UK has reported the highest number of job losses since 2008. With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or furlough scheme), being phased out on October 31, Penman wrote that businesses should consider their long-term resilience and consider implementing alternative coping strategies to avoid or reduce redundancies.
According to Penman, devising a redundancy process is necessary and “employers’ failure to adequately plan redundancy exercises and implement them fairly and indiscriminately will inevitably cause those employers to enter into costly settlements with employees or face them at tribunal in the long-term.”