Keep on the right side of the law

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. An update of changes in employment law and the responsibilities of the OHpractitioner were discussedEmployment law consultant Joan Lewis of ACT Associates returned to theconference once again to give her popular, if frightening update on recentchanges in employment law. This year these included new maternity leave and payrights, other family leave proposals, the prevention of illegal working andavoidance of race discrimination and dignity at work policies – anti-bullying,harassment, ageism and so on. She also looked at the provisions of the Acas arbitration scheme, thevoluntary alternative to employment tribunals for resolving unfair dismissalclaims. Both parties need to agree a written arbitration agreement, hearingsare confidential and there is no right of appeal. Lewis also examined the health and safety provisions for young workers.There should be specific risk assessments for young workers, who should now beworking a maximum of an eight-hour day. Turning to recent case law, sexual bullies in the workplace face the veryreal prospect of going to prison, following the case of R v Lancashire and Wakefield,Lewis announced. She also referred to developments in DDA case law and casesrelating to the occupational health practitioner’s duty of care and gaveguidelines on ethics and standards of service. She suggested points to remember when trying to ensure that you are giving ahelpful report in a DDA case. – Don’t make management decisions – Do give an opinion as to if, when, and how an employee might return towork – Give objective, health-related decisions supported by brief facts. Lewis laid out the grounds for termination of employment for health-relatedreasons. Incapacity by reason of ill-health is a fair reason for dismissal, shesaid, but it is vital to follow proper procedures. These include a thoroughinvestigation, including medical reports, a review of the DDA implications,proper communication with the employee and finally and most importantly, thedemonstration of sympathy, compassion and understanding in your dealings withthe employee. Lewis went on to review the case law relating to specialist reports in DDAcauses, concluding that the evidence of a properly-qualified occupationalhealth specialist was essential. She said in cases where conflicting medicaladvice was given that the law allowed the employer to rely on the opinion oftheir occupational health professional unless that person had relied on notesonly without making an examination; had failed to make a specific conclusion;the continued employment of the person posed a genuine risk to the health andsafety of others; or the treating specialist should have been asked for anopinion. Keep on the right side of the lawOn 1 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img

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