Acas launches new advice on dealing with discrimination issues
Acas has published a new guide aimed at helping people resolve workplace disputes that have arisen because of possible discrimination.
The guide acknowledges that the circumstances that lead to someone feeling discriminated against can often be more complicated than they seem. A failure to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong is likely to lead to further misunderstandings between parties, and make it harder to find a resolution.
Defusing a situation
The guide Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the workplace [164kb] is aimed at untangling any complexities and establishing a dialogue to find out what has happened.
It encourages employees, job applicants and other aggrieved parties to ask questions of employers before rushing to make an employment tribunal claim. It also advises employers how best to respond to such questions.
Q & A
A simple round of questions and answers, it says, can not only clear up a misunderstanding, but could lead to an acknowledgement that things have gone wrong. And if there may have been discrimination 'an offer to put matters right will be all that is necessary to nip a problem in the bud'.
It provides a six-step framework for questioners, and three-step guidance for responders, plus a section dedicated to issues to do with equal pay and contractual terms and conditions.
The guide warns employers against ignoring questions and hoping the issue goes away. Resolutions are much more likely to be solved if questions are dealt with as quickly as possible, and with as much information as possible.
Questioners acting in good faith are also protected under the Equality Act 2010; treating a questioner unfavourably for asking questions could give rise to a claim of victimisation.
Acas publications and services
Grievance procedures should be the first port of call with a dispute. But if this doesn't produce an acceptable outcome in circumstances that could lead to an employment tribunal claim, there are still opportunities to find a resolution through conciliation.
From 6 April 2014, anyone wishing to make a claim to an employment tribunal will have to contact Acas first, who will offer Early Conciliation. If this doesn't conclude matters the claimant will be able to lodge a tribunal claim if they wish to.
For free, impartial advice on any employment relations matter, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.
Acas can visit your organisation and help you build effective working relationships, develop discipline and grievance procedures, and mediate in employee grievances; see Disputes and mediation: how Acas can help.
Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.
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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
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