Employment Law Notes

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Employment Law

Employment Law is about the legal relationship between an employer and an employee. It is based on the contract of employment. It protects both the employer and the employee.

The laws on employment come from:

• Statutes passed by the UK Parliament, such as the Employment Act 1990 and the equal pay Act 1970;

• European Community in the form of regulations and directives.

• Common Law, which is based on normal practice and includes things like the employers duty to pay wages or the employee’s duty to obey lawful orders

A ‘statutory right’ means a right which is based on the act of parliament.

Employment law covers all aspects of employment- from job adverts and interviews to dismissal and redundancy or retirement.

Adverts and Job Interviews

Job adverts and interviews have to comply with the Equality Act 2010 which has now consolidated and replaced previous legislation such as: Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (amended 1986 & 2001), Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Race Relation Act 1976(amended 2000). The Law provides for equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services. In other words, adverts for jobs should not discriminate against people because of their sex or race. For example it would be illegal to advertise for a ‘male forester’ or a ‘woman cleaner’. Nor could an advert ask for a ‘Scottish Manager’.

The exceptions to this law are exemplified below:

➢ In some circumstances it is possible to state that being of a particular sex, race, religion/belief, age or sexual orientation is a genuine occupational qualification or requirement for the job.

Therefore, it may be possible to state that being:

▪ of Italian origin is a requirement for a job as a waiter an Italian restaurant so that the restaurant has an "authentic" Italian atmosphere ▪ a man is a qualification for a job as an attendant in a men's public lavatory as some men might object to having a female attendant around while they use the facilities ▪ a Christian is necessary for a job with Christian charity ▪ heterosexual is a requirement for a job with a religious organisation because the religion's believers object to homosexual practices ▪ Over 50yrs is a requirement for a job as an actor playing the part of someone who is retired. ➢ Jobs in private households- but only if the work involves intimate physical contact- so it would be alright to advertise for a ‘live in female companion’ but not for a ‘male gardener’. By virtue of the Equality Act 2010, it is now unlawful for an employer to impose an age limit when recruiting, unless this age restriction can be objectively justified or is imposed by law. Note that it is not unlawful to ask for ages on application forms. However, care should be taken to ensure that obtaining this information does not lead to unjustified discrimination. It might be better if such questions are saved for a diversity monitoring form that can be separated from the main application.

As with adverts it is also important that interviews are not discriminatory. This covers not only the exact words used, but also attitudes to and treatment of applicants.

Secretary of state for Scotland v Miss Henley

It could also be considered illegal to ask certain questions only of particular candidates. For example it would be discriminatory to ask female candidates if they have children and what they would do if their children were ill during work time and not to ask this question of male candidates.

Employee’s Eligibility

Some people are automatically entitled to work in the UK. Others may have restrictions on how long they can stay, whether they can work or the type of work they can do.

Under the Asylum & Immigration Act 1996, all employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal migrant working. They must therefore check the entitlement of everyone they plan...
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