October’s key changes in employment law

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By Nicholas Jew

One of the less welcome employment law reforms implemented by the coalition government has been the decision to do away with the practice that new employment law is implemented only in April and October. However, despite the legislative free-for-all of the past few months, there are still some key employment law changes that will be coming into force on the traditional date of 1 October.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) will repeal the third-party harassment provisions in section 40(2) to 40(4) of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA). Claimants who are harassed by third parties after 1 October 2013 will have to rely on the ‘normal’ harassment provisions in section 26 EqA 2010 or seek to establish liability under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The definition of harassment in section 26 of EqA 2010 provides that harassment can occur where conduct is ‘related to’ a protected characteristic. This means that employees may be able to argue that an employer’s inaction in the face of third-party harassment was itself unwanted conduct ‘related to’ a protected characteristic that violated their dignity or created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. However, this will be a high threshold and it is unlikely there will be many successful claims…

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