24 April 2015
A zero hours contract worker has been awarded £19,500 in a sexual harassment case.
In S vs Britannia Hotels Ltd the tribunal heard that the claimant’s line manager frequently touched her and asked her about her sex life. The claimant mentioned the issue to another manager, who told her to lodge a written complaint and took no further action.
The 22 year old claimant was reluctant to report the sexual harassment for fear of her manager reducing her hours.
Eventually, after her mother intervened, the victim lodged a complaint. The tribunal upheld the claim, and the claimant was awarded £19,500. The tribunal criticised the employer’s;
- failure to follow up on the worker’s initial informal complaint;
- lack of any clear action against the alleged perpetrator; and
- long delay in completing the investigation.
XpertHR principal employment law editor Stephen Simpson said: “This unpleasant case is as good an example as you will see of the inherent unfairness of zero hours contracts.
“Whatever amendments to the fringes of the legislation are made, for example banning exclusivity clauses, it is simply a very difficult thing for a worker on a zero hours contract to complain to their employer, even if the complaints are genuine and of a very serious nature. That’s particularly the case where the alleged wrongdoing is committed by the line manager who sets the worker’s hours.”
“The meaning of ‘worker’ in the Equality Act 2010 is wide enough to cover workers on zero hours contracts and so they are protected against discrimination”.
1.8m workers are now on ZHCs in the UK, and the number is fast growing. In Re-regulating Zero Hours Contracts Simon Deakin and Zoe Adams point out that; “There is a significant overlap between ZHC workers and vulnerable groups in the labour market. ZHC workers are more likely to be below the age of 24 (37%, compared to 12% overall) and slightly more that half of the ZHC workforce are women (53%). In workplaces where there are ZHCs, there is a greater likelihood that non-UK nationals will be employed (48% as opposed to 25% nationally)”. It is imperative that these workers receive the employment protections they are due.
The IER is holding a conference in London on 10 June, Workplace issues; Taking up the issues with the new government in which “Victimisation in the workplace: protection under the Equality Act 2010” will be a point of focus. Find out more about the event, and book your place here.