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Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly employment law update. We keep track of the latest employment law changes so you don't have to!
Last year an employment tribunal heard a claim that being vegetarian should be considered a protected characteristic on the basis that it is a philosophical belief. In order to qualify as a philosophical belief the belief must satisfy a number of criteria including:
The judge determined that being a vegetarian was not a protected characteristic because it was a lifestyle choice and reasons for being a vegetarian can differ widely. The decision was only at tribunal level so is not binding, but within the judgment it was also suggested that there may be a different outcome for vegans.
Earlier this year another employment tribunal decided that ethical veganism is a protected characteristic. Ethical vegans eat a plant based diet but also try to avoid contact with clothing made of wool or leather and try not to use products tested on animals. It was clear in this case (Casamitjana Costa v The League Against Cruel Sports) that the claimant sought to avoid interaction with any animal products. The judge ruled that ethical veganism is a protected characteristic because it satisfies the tests set out above.
The case has received a lot of publicity but it's worth noting that:
As of 6 April 2020 employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, will be entitled to 2 weeks' statutory leave, to be taken in one block or as two separate blocks of a week. Employees with at least 26 weeks' service, who meet minimum earnings criteria, will also qualify for Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (at the same rate as Statutory Paternity Pay).
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is conducting a survey to find out if data controllers (e.g. employers) understand the complex legal framework in this area. We suspect the answer is generally predictable but if you would like to let the ICO know your view you can answer the survey up until 28 February and can find it here
Research published by Citrix has revealed that 55% of employees' working hours are closer to that of a six-day week than a four-day week.
65% of the employees interviewed believed that a shift to a four-day week would be "unachievable" as it would require a workplace culture shift.
From 1 April 2020, the accommodation offset will also increase from ¬£7.55 to ¬£8.20 each day.
The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which would be 5 April 2020.
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