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25 December 2005

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New sex discrimination law reminder


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Employers in Peterborough have been reminded that they may need to update their sex discrimination policies due to new legislation that has just come into force.

Peterborough-based Greenwoods Solicitors LLP says that there is now, for the first time in UK law, an express definition of harassment on the grounds of a person's sex, including, importantly, sexual harassment.

The new regulations also update the definition of indirect discrimination, expressly allow ex-employees to bring claims for sex discrimination and set an eight week time limit for responses to sex discrimination questionnaires.

Robert Dillarstone, head of employment law at Greenwoods, said: "This new legislation means that the definition of harassment is consistent among all of the discrimination laws and goes a long way towards making this area of law much clearer for both employers and employees.

"Employers need to check their sex discrimination polices to ensure that they are up to date with current legislation. Greenwoods is able to offer knowledgeable advice to businesses which need clarification on how the law affects them.

"Also in force this month is the mandatory use of new employment tribunal claim and response forms. These were first introduced back in October 2004 and the format of them is complex.

"It is worth employers bearing in mind that if the forms are incorrectly completed they automatically get returned to them. This may result in tribunal time limits overrunning. We are happy to help employers save time and resources by applying our expertise in this area and helping them understand the process and its implications."

Another key employment law development has been the shelving of the proposed EU Directive on temporary agency workers. This directive, which would have afforded temps the same terms and conditions as permanent staff has, following a raft of opposition, been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

Robert Dillarstone added: "This is very good news for employers. Businesses need to be able to use temporary staff in a flexible way. The proposed directive in its current form would have seriously infringed the rights of employers to effectively conduct their operations." 

October 2005

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