Employment Matters Update — April 2014: abolition of discrimination questionnaires; mandatory ACAS conciliation; and more
Employers and HR professionals will probably cheer the news that discrimination questionnaires are being abolished. But don’t celebrate too soon: employees will still be able to ask questions about possible discrimination, just by sending an ordinary letter rather than using the questionnaire format. ACAS has published guidance about what to include in an information request letter, and it looks very similar to the old questionnaire form.
Employers were never legally obliged to respond to discrimination questionnaires, but faced the possibility in any subsequent claim that the tribunal would draw ‘adverse inferences’ if they failed to do so. With the new format, there will be no adverse inferences, but the ACAS guidance states that the tribunal ‘may look at whether a responder has answered questions and how they have answered them, as a contributory factor in making their overall decision on the questioner’s discrimination claim’. It’s not clear whether there will be any practical difference to the old regime of adverse inference…
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A derogatory comment posted on a social networking site will be defamatory if it contains an untrue imputation against the employer that serves to undermine the reputation of the organisation.