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Posted in:HR and Employment|April 30, 2014 | Join the mailing list

We all know that times have been tough over the past few years and often employers have regarded employment law training on areas such as equal opportunities and whistleblowing as a luxury which they can put off to a later date. However this is a decision
which can come back to haunt you if you then find yourself facing a discrimination or whistleblowing claim.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers can be held liable for discriminatory acts carried out by members of their workforce against colleagues and there is no cap on the amount of the compensation which the Employment Tribunal can require the employer to pay
to the worker who has been the victim of the discriminatory behaviour. The personal characteristics protected by the Equality Act are wide ranging (covering sex, race, maternity, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion and belief amongst others) and
it’s important that employers make their staff aware of all the protected characteristics so as to limit the risk of discriminatory behaviour occurring.

There is a defence available to employers under the Act under which the employer can avoid liability for an employee’s discriminatory conduct toward a colleague, but this defence is only available where the employer can demonstrate that it took all reasonable
steps to avoid the discriminatory behaviour occurring.

Having a properly drafted policy on equality and diversity is important, but it’s just as important to make sure that your staff receive regular training in this area, so that you can reduce the risk of unlawful discrimination and benefit from the “reasonable
steps” defence should discrimination unfortunately occur.

Similarly, an employer can be liable if an employee makes a “protected disclosure”, blowing the whistle on things such as unlawful activity by colleagues, and is then subject to detrimental treatment by colleagues for having made that disclosure. Again, there
is no cap on the amount of compensation which the Employment Tribunal can require the employer to pay, but once again there is a defence if the employer can show that it took all reasonable steps to avoid the detrimental treatment taking place. As with equal
opportunities, regular training of the workforce is a key requirement.

The Berg Employment Team can deliver in-house training programmes to help you make sure that your employees are properly up to speed on equality, diversity and whistleblowing and we can also provide training on other employment law topics, such as

–    performance management

–    managing sickness absence

–    avoiding bribery and corruption

–    dealing with disciplinary and grievance issues

–    tackling bullying and harassment in the workplace, and more.

We provide our training through interactive on-site sessions delivered by our specialist employment solicitors and we use case studies together with question and answer sessions and general group discussion, so as to encourage the people who attend to get fully

For more information about any of the above or for practical commercial advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact
Nigel Crebbin of the Berg Employment Team on 0161 833 9211 or email him at

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(The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should
be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.) 

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