Employers told not to overlook notice period strife

Harassment by departing staff shouldn't be ignored, warns law firm

Employers have been warned to make sure all employees are protected from harassment and inappropriate jokes instigated by departing colleagues.

Law firm Halliwell Landau said that a recent tribunal case has underlined the need for businesses to ensure all staff are treated fairly, even if they are coming to the end of their contracts.

The case involved a health worker who was leaving his job and decided to distribute a pornographic picture with a colleague’s head superimposed upon it as a practical joke.

A complaint was made, resulting in the man losing his offer of employment from his new company. His employers were taken to a tribunal, but the man’s unfair dismissal claims were eventually rejected.

Halliwell Landau said that firms must remember that they have a responsibility for the well-being of all staff, regardless of whether a particular employee is leaving or not.

Michael Ball, partner at Halliwell Landau, said that employers must protect staff from harassment.

“If an employee is offended by the actions of another in the workplace – whether intentionally or not – the employer has to take action to protect that employee.

“An employer would be failing in its own duties if it failed to react simply on the grounds that the employee was leaving in any event.

“The case is a reminder both to employers and employees that just because the employment contract is coming to an end doesn’t mean that there are no longer rules that have to be taken into consideration.

“The employees who are leaving still have to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner and employers still have responsibilities to staff to ensure that they are not subjected to any form of harassment in the workplace,” he said.

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