Third Party Harassment Rights To Be Removed From April

by BCL Legal on April 11, 2013

  • SumoMe

April sees many changes in employment law as in any industry and one that has sparked debate and outrage is the proposal to remove the third party harassment provisions that were part of the Equality Act 2010. The government has defended its repeal, stating that businesses do not have any “direct control over it” and that the employment tribunal has only acted in one case since the introduction of the legislation in 2008. They also say that employees have alternative forms of justice that they can pursue which means that the legislation is unnecessary.

The Equality Act

The Equality Act 2010 was seen to be good news by equal rights campaigners who saw the third party harassment legislation as being a positive move. This legislation meant that employers could be liable for harassment if an employee was harassed on at least three occasions by a third party, such as a client or supplier, and the company did not make reasonable attempts to prevent it from happening.

The Plan For Growth

However, the coalition government decided, as part of their Plan for Growth in 2011 that consultation was required on this element of the Act. During this plan, the government described this clause as being an “unworkable requirement” and in October 2012 they announced that, even though 71% of respondents were opposed to the removal of the clause, it would be retracted from April 2013. Campaigners had hoped to change their stance before this date but it looks all but a done deal now with the clause set to be removed from the Act.

Why Repeal The Proposals?

The Government said that the provisions had no real purpose highlighting the fact that the employment tribunal had only had to see one relevant case in 5 years. They also said that it should be repealed because businesses did not have any real control over whether an employee received this harassment during the course of their work. However, repealing the provisions does mean ignoring a 71% majority of those that responded to the consultation.

Why The Proposals Should Remain

Respondents argued that although only one case may have been heard by the tribunal, this ignores the potential that its provision had seen employers take steps to ensure that it did not become a problem. Proponents of the Act believe that its deterrent measures were more effective than its punishment measures. Supports of the Act also stated that businesses only had to “take reasonably practicable steps” and that this helped to support businesses as long as they had taken some steps to prevent harassment from occurring.

April 2013 Changes

Despite the debate, however, the three strikes rule will be removed from April and the government has pointed to the fact that employees have other legal routes that they can take if they feel they have been unfairly and repeatedly harassed by a third party and their employer has not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from occurring. With only one case having reached employment tribunal, critics have said that repealing it does not really provide any benefit to anybody.

About This Article

This article has been written and distributed on behalf of BCL Legal Recruitment who are experts for solicitors jobs in London.

BCL Legal

BCL Legal

BCL Legal are market leaders and experts in Legal Recruitment. They are based in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Reading.
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