HRBC Forum Summary

June 2021: Tame the Beast: Getting the Upper Hand in General Protections Claims

In June, Anca Costin, Barrister from Blackburn Chambers, presented an insight into the wildly complex area of general protections claims, and how HR Practitioners can best equip themselves to ‘tame the beast’ in managing them. A key takeaway from Anca’s presentation was how crucial it is to understand general protections claims and to act in a way that reduces the likelihood of them occurring all together.

General protections protect both current and prospective employees from having adverse action being taken against them, including for exercising a workplace right, industrial activity or discrimination. Types of adverse action can include firing an employee, altering an employee’s position to their detriment or discrimination against the employee. Some examples of adverse action can include not promoting someone because of their gender, dismissing someone because of their childcare responsibilities, or reducing a person’s pay for participating in a union activity.

Discussion around the breakfast table included the effectiveness of open and honest communication with employees. The onus falls on the employer to prove that they have not acted adversely against an employee. As a result, the best protection for an employer can often be as simple as engaging in clear and frank discussions. Being forthright with employees on the reason for taking action in the short term may well save you in the long term.  

If you have a general protections matter that you would like to discuss, please contact the Employment Law and Investigations Team for more information.

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