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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Is it possible to dismiss a disabled employee who has taken lots of sick leave?
    Yes, but you need to tread carefully. So first arrange to meet the employee in order to discuss their absence and find out: (1) if their condition might constitute a disability and be covered by the Equality Act 2010; (2) how much further time they're likely to be absent for; and (3) if any reasonable adjustments need to be made to enable them to return to or stay in work. If they can't return to their current role (or an alternative one) in the foreseeable future, you'll need their written consent to obtain...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Why must we request documentary evidence of the right to work in the UK from someone who is clearly British?
    The risk here is really one of race discrimination. That's because in complying with your statutory obligations under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, you run the risk of an allegation along these lines if you're selective about whom you ask to produce such documentation. So you need to take steps to ensure you don't act in a discriminatory manner. This means asking all prospective employees to produce such evidence, even if they claim, or appear, to be British.  
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Must we always grant leave for religious holidays?
    No, this is a myth. Whilst the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief, there's nothing that requires you to grant leave for each and every type of religious holiday requested. In fact, you're only expected to do your best to accommodate requests and, in doing so, balance them against the needs of your business. Consider alternative work patterns to enable the religious holiday even if they aren't workable in the end and don't rely on cost considerations alone....
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Are recurring illnesses protected by the Equality Act 2010 (EA)?
    Yes, it's possible. Under the EA the physical or mental impairment must have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on an employee's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The effect of an impairment is long term if it has lasted for at least twelve months, or it is likely to last for at least twelve months, or it is likely to last for the rest of the employee's life. In addition, if an impairment ceases to have a substantial adverse effect on the employee's ability to carry out normal day-to-day...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we deal with a potential disability at the interview stage?
    Job applicants are protected from discrimination during recruitment, so you need to be seen to treat all candidates fairly. This is particularly important as discrimination legislation protects a wide range of conditions, including stress and depression, if they are deemed sufficiently long-term and they have a substantial adverse effect on the individual's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. So when you invite someone to an interview, ask if any special arrangements need to be made, e.g. giving...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Is redundancy an easy way to get rid of staff on maternity leave?
    No, never. Any attempt to make a woman redundant for a reason(s) related to her pregnancy amounts to unlawful discrimination. Indeed, those on maternity leave who have been provisionally selected for redundancy have a statutory right to priority over other potentially redundant employees when suitable alternative employment is being considered. You can only select a woman on maternity leave for redundancy if you can show that the entire selection and dismissal process is a fair one. This can be done by: (1)...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - How do we reduce the risk of employing someone likely to fall pregnant quickly?
    If you don't tread carefully here you may face a claim of sex discrimination. Even if you ask all job applicants if they plan to start a family within the next six months, you're on dodgy ground as an inference of sex discrimination exists. It can also be implied if the job goes to a much older woman. So the safest way to reduce the risk is to ask all candidates where they see themselves in both one year and three years' time. Then watch for their reaction and any hesitation. By then asking further neutral questions...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Can we still ask for age on application forms?
    Whilst asking for an applicant's age isn't age discriminatory in itself, it could be used to make discriminatory decisions; even unintentionally. So unless you're recruiting for a specific post where age is relevant, such as a minimum legal age limit for driving vehicles, e.g. lorries or buses, remove the question. However, if you wish to record information on the age profile of those who apply for jobs with you, use a separate equal opportunities monitoring form. Tip. Ensure that interviewers don't have...
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - Is the use of phrases such as "young and enthusiastic" in job adverts now illegal?
    Contrary to popular belief, age discrimination legislation doesn't ban age discriminatory adverts. But, if your use of this type of phrase shows an intention to discriminate on the grounds of age, e.g. an older job applicant would feel excluded from applying due to the words "young and enthusiastic", there's a risk that they could bring an age discrimination claim against you and use your job advert as evidence of discrimination. Tip. Don't use words or phrases that link to age, e.g. mature or young person....
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  • Frequently Asked Employment Questions - A pregnant employee has taken lots of sick leave. Is there anything we can do?
    Yes, but you'll need to be very careful to avoid allegations of discrimination. Start by reviewing sickness absence records for both before and during pregnancy to establish whether there's any pattern to the absences. For example, since you were notified of the pregnancy, are most or all of the absences listed as being pregnancy related? If so, look at what she suffered from previously, such as recurrent stomach bugs or headaches and ask yourself why she no longer suffers from them. Then hold a back-to-work...
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