09 Mar 2014

End of statutory questionnaires… or is it?

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From 6 April 2014, statutory discrimination questionnaires will be abolished, which will impact all discrimination claims taking place on or after that date.

At present an individual may submit a questionnaire requesting information relating to their belief that they have been discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010. The employer is then given a period of eight weeks in which to respond and if they fail to do so or fail to provide clear answers, the ET may draw negative inferences from this.

Under this change, the statutory discrimination questionnaire will be abolished. Although employers may welcome this news, particularly in light of the time needed to respond to such questionnaires, the actual benefits of this change are negligible. An individual may still submit informal questions as a pre-action request and the ET may still draw adverse inferences from an employer's refusal to respond or failure to provide clear answers.

In an attempt to clarify how an individual should formulate informal questions and guide employers in responding to such questions, ACAS have issued their guidance. The guidance is silent as to the timeframe employers have in which to respond. Our advice is that you do not unreasonably delay in responding and in any event within eight weeks of receipt.

Although the aim of the abolition of questionnaires is to move away from the prescribed form that is currently being used, it would appear that there is nothing preventing individuals from using the current questionnaire template when formulating their ""informal"" questions from 6 April 2014.

In other news:
The Government is currently reviewing different draft regulations, which are expected to come into force from April 2015 - during election year! Key points arising out of the new proposals are:

* Shared Parental Leave – provided they qualify, employees will be able to take shared parental leave in the first year of their child's life, or where the child is adopted, in the first year after the child's placement for adoption
* Statutory Shared Parental Pay - draft regulations will introduce an entitlement to receive pay in respect of shared parental leave

Watch this space...
 
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Paul Reeves
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