04 June 2013

Guernsey could be set for changes to employment law

Guernsey could soon follow Jersey and the UK in introducing additional discrimination legislation and tightening controls on those making employment claims, according to Carey Olsen employment lawyer, Rachel Richardson.

Ms Richardson was speaking to human resource (HR) professionals at the Guernsey Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Centenary ball held on Friday 17 May.

HR professionals heard that, earlier this month, Jersey passed legislation prohibiting race discrimination and is likely to add other forms of discrimination legislation, including sex orientation, in the near future. Ms Richardson believes that Guernsey will follow suit.

Noting recent European Court of Human Rights judgments in the area she said: “Guernsey doesn’t currently have legislation enabling employees to bring religious discrimination claims but it does have human rights legislation containing the same right to manifest religious beliefs in the workplace. It is important that businesses consider how they address discrimination in the workplace and to ensure they have appropriate policies in place for employees,”

Tackling the issue of employment tribunal claims, Ms Richardson said Guernsey could benefit if recent changes adopted in the UK were made here.

“Employers in Guernsey facing an employment claim currently have two choices; they can either pay to settle it out of court or pay to defend it. Employees do not need to use lawyers to bring claims and so they may have very little to lose (at least financially) by bringing a claim.

“The UK government is perhaps trying to redress this imbalance – they have extended the length of service from one to two years before a claim can be made.  (In Guernsey employees require only one year of service before making a claim.) The UK has further introduced a compulsory conciliation process before a claim can be brought and they are also in the process of introducing tribunal fees that employees will have to pay in order to bring a claim.

“Adopting these changes in Guernsey could be good news for local employers as it mitigates the risk of employees bringing unmeritorious claims,” she said.

TV presenter and adventurer, Ben Fogle, was the CIPD’s guest speaker at the event. He gave the audience an insight into his motivation for the extreme, how he has overcome challenges and his top tips for teamwork.