by | Mar 8, 2024

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights

Understanding your legal duty of care 

Employment law expert, Andrew Brown, joins us to unravel the complexities of employer obligations and employee rights in today’s working world. This episode is a must-listen for both employers and employees who wish to understand the foundational legal requirements that underpin workplace wellbeing and protection. 

The episode dives into the concept of an employer’s duty of care and the critical legal frameworks that compel companies to ensure a safe and supportive workplace. Andrew explains that duty of care extends beyond providing surface-level perks and involves substantial legal responsibilities that safeguard both the physical and psychological welfare of employees. 

Key insights: 
  • Legal frameworks: Employers are legally required to protect their employees from harm, encompassing physical safety as well as psychological health. This includes mitigating psychosocial hazards that could cause stress or injury. 

Addressing psychosocial hazards 

A significant portion of the episode is dedicated to exploring psychosocial hazards in the workplace, such as role ambiguity, strained relationships, and the necessity for reasonable adjustments for vulnerable employees. Andrew emphasises that managing these hazards is not just a best practice but a legal requirement. 

Strategies for managing psychosocial hazards: 

  • Role clarity: Clearly define job roles and responsibilities to prevent role ambiguity and the stress it causes. 
  • Conflict resolution: Implement policies for addressing interpersonal conflicts effectively and foster a culture of respect and cooperation. 
  • Reasonable adjustments: Make necessary adjustments for employees with specific needs to ensure they can perform their roles without undue stress. 

Differentiating bullying and harassment 

Andrew provides clarity on the legal definitions of bullying and harassment. While bullying can be a broader term, harassment under the Equality Act 2010 must be linked to a protected characteristic, such as race, gender, or disability. 

Key takeaways: 
  • Harassment: Legally defined and connected to discrimination based on protected characteristics. 
  • Bullying: Although not always connected to protected characteristics, it must still be addressed as it can create a hostile work environment and lead to legal consequences under the employer’s duty of care. 

Navigating employment tribunals 

The discussion covers the realities and repercussions of facing an employment tribunal. Andrew underscores the importance of having robust policies and mental health and safety management systems as defences against claims of breaches in duty of care. 

Essential preparations for employers: 
  • Comprehensive policies: Develop and enforce clear policies on health and safety, bullying, and harassment. 
  • Regular training: Provide training for all employees and management on these policies to ensure understanding and compliance. 
  • Documentation: Maintain thorough records of all incidents and actions taken to protect employee wellbeing. 

Psychological safety and loneliness 

The episode further explores the importance of psychological safety and the detrimental effects of loneliness on employee wellbeing. Psychological safety allows employees to speak up and share ideas without fear of negative consequences, which is crucial for a healthy work environment. 

Creating psychological safety:

  • Inclusive meetings: Encourage open dialogue and ensure that every team member feels heard and valued to build an environment of psychological safety.
  • Active listening: Leaders should practice active listening and show genuine interest in employees’ concerns and ideas. 

The episode concludes with a call to action for creating workplaces where compliance with employer’s legal duty of care is the norm, psychological safety is inherent, and employment tribunals become unnecessary. This vision, while ambitious, is achievable with the right knowledge, tools, and commitment from both employers and employees. 

Key takeaways: 
  • Legal duty of care: Understand the comprehensive legal obligations employers have regarding the wellbeing of their employees.
  • Psychosocial hazards: Proactively manage stressors like role ambiguity and interpersonal conflicts. 
  • Legal definitions: Differentiate between bullying and harassment and know the legal implications of each. 
  • Employment tribunals: Develop robust policies and maintain documentation to defend against legal claims. 
  • Psychological safety: Foster an environment where employees feel safe to express their ideas and concerns. 

 

Tune in wherever you get your podcasts: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and many more… 

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