Dress Codes, Uniforms And Religious/Philisophical Signs – Employment Law Update

Discrimination Law is one of the most difficult areas an employer can face when dealing with employees. However our local employment law solicitors can make the minefield seem like a walk in the park.

Uniforms and dress codes are often situations which pose employers with very complex equal opportunity questions.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), has this year had two contrasting cases referred to it relating dress codes and wearing religious/philosophical signs.

In the case of Achibita –v- G4S Secure Solutions NV the Advocate General confirmed that prohibiting the wearing of a head scarf can be justified by an employer’s general policy of neutrality and where the ban applied consistently to all visible signs of religious or philosophical beliefs.

However, the latest decision in the case of Eougnaoui –v- Micropole SA has found that unless there is a “genuine and determining occupational requirement”, which must be limited to matters which are absolutely necessary in order for the employee to perform their job or the task in question, it would not be possible for the employer to simply put a blanket ban against the wearing of any religious/philosophical sign when setting a company uniform or dress code.

Employers looking to ensure that they have a clear and compliant policy on uniform and dress code or indeed if they have any queries or issues relating to these developments, are welcome to contact our Employment Law Solicitors on 01530 835041.

Failure To Make Reasonable Adjustments Or Continue With Reasonable Adjustments

Disability Discrimination and reasonable adjustments is a very complex area, which employers generally fall foul of.

It becomes particularly difficult when considering the importance of the word “reasonable” when making and considering an adjustment.

It has been recently considered in Employment Appeal Tribunal in G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Limited – v- Lee Powell whether the duty to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee extended to the employer continuing to pay an increased salary when the employee had as part of a reasonable adjustment moved from a skilled job to a non-skilled job.

The Claimant had been employed since 1997 and had a number of roles ranging from engineering roles to driving roles. His last role prior to any adjustments being made was that of SLM engineer.

The Claimant had suffered from lower back problems as a result of an injury and by 2012 he was no longer fit to carry out jobs that involved heavy lifting. As part of the employer’s attempt to make reasonable adjustments he has moved to a lesser role but the employer had agreed to protect his salary at the higher rate.

The Claimant understood this to be a permanent change; however the Respondent then informed the Claimant that the role would not be permanent and they discontinued the role for “organisation reasons”.

The Respondent later went back to the Claimant and said that it would keep the role but only if the Claimant would take a 10% pay cut. This was the only way the Respondent was willing to consider making the role permanent. As the Claimant was unwilling to accept this and the parties could not agree the Respondent decided to dismiss the Claimant.

It was held that the dismissal itself was unfair and discriminatory and that the reasonable adjustment extended to maintaining the Claimant’s former pay in his new role indefinitely.

This is a stark reminder for employers to take advice when dealing with policies and procedures involving changes to Contracts of Employment. It does not have to be costly but in the long run taking advice at an early stage on how best to deal with employment/HR issues is the most sensible and pro-active way to ensure that business is not faced with large unexpected legal bills or awards being made against it.

Our specialist employment solicitors will be more than happy to discuss your requirements or discuss this particular case further and can be contacted on 01530 835 041.