Employment: NI Court of Appeal: reasonable adjustments and autism

In British Telecommunications PLC v Kevin Owen Meier [2019] NICA 43 the Northern Ireland (NI) Court of Appeal considered whether an employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments to a psychometric test in relation to a neuro-diverse job applicant. Mr Meier graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a 2.1 degree in computer science.  He has a high IQ.  He has Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia and dyspraxia.  During his educational career he had the benefit of note-takers for classes, scribes, a prompter, an Asperger’s mentor and extra time for examinations.  In March 2017 he applied for a job with British Telecommunications PLC (BT), who had advertised network design and engineering opportunities for graduates. BT is a member of the Disability Confident Scheme (DCS), which aims at helping organisations to employ and retain people with disabilities.  DCS members are expected to take active steps to attract and recruit applicants with disabilities, and to provide a fully inclusive and accessible recruitment process.  Under its ‘Guaranteed Interview Scheme’, BT guaranteed to interview any applicant with a disability whose application met the minimum criteria for the position.  ‘Minimum criteria’ meant ‘evidence in the application form which demonstrates that the (applicant) generally meets the level of competence required for each competence as well as meeting any of the qualifications skills or experience defined as essential.’ BT’s graduate Read Full Article…

Procurement: Time limit for claims and disclosure obligations

In Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust v Cornwall Council [2019] EWHC 2211 (TCC), the Technology and Construction Court (the ‘Court’) considered a claim brought by the incumbent provider, the Trust, under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the ‘PCR’) against the Council. The Council published a contract notice in the Official Journal of the European Union inviting tenders for three separate contracts to provide sexual health services in Cornwall (‘the new contract’).  The contract notice and the tender documents provided that the new contract would be for seven years and would have a value of £2,500,000 per annum (‘financial cap’) with the exception of year one where an additional £100,000 was available for the implementation of a new digital platform. The Trust’s view was that the services to be provided under the new contract were materially the same as those it was providing under its current contract, and therefore could not be provided for less than about the £2.88m per annum that it spent in providing those services.  The Trust obtained the tender documents and claimed that it had undertaken a significant amount of work to determine whether it should submit a bid, however, it ultimately decided not to do so, and informed the Council accordingly.  Its reasons were that it could not satisfy the service specification within the financial cap Read Full Article…

Charity: Charity Commission updates guidance on exempt charities

The Charity Commission guidance on exempt charities (CC23) has been updated to include current details of principal regulators, and information related to regulations that have recently come into force. Exempt charities are institutions that have charitable status and must comply with general charity law, but unlike other charities they: cannot register with the Charity Commission (Commission) are not directly regulated by the Commission and instead have (or will have) a principal regulator, ie a body or authority responsible for regulating the charity under a specific legal framework may only be investigated by the Commission as part of a statutory inquiry at the request of their principal regulator The great majority of higher education institutions (HEIs) in England are ‘exempt charities’.  The principal regulator of exempt charity HEIs (and of charities that are their ‘connected institutions’) is the Office for Students (OFS).  A complete list of English HEIs that are regulated by the OFS as exempt charities is included in Annex B, OFS Regulatory advice 5: exempt charities.  All HEIs in Wales and the remaining HEIs in England are regulated directly by the Commission.  The charitable status and activities of Scottish HEIs are regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). The updated Commission guidance reflects the amendments to Schedule 3 to the Charities Act 2011, introduced by the Higher Education and Read Full Article…

Employment: Government launch consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace

The Government Equalities Office has launched a consultation on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.  The consultation, which was published on 11 July 2019, follows the Government’s response to the report on sexual harassment in the workplace by the Women and Equalities Select Committee in December 2018. The consultation is split into a set of online questions, which are designed to be quick and easy for anyone to respond to, and a more technical document that invites views on details of the law. Views are sought particularly from those who have experienced sexual harassment or other types of discrimination at work, including volunteers and interns, those who have managed or supported someone who has experienced sexual harassment or other types of discrimination at work, and  anyone who has thought about taking a case of any type of discrimination or harassment to an employment tribunal. Particular issues that may be able to be dealt with are the following: How best to make sure employers take all the steps they can to prevent harassment from happening Strengthening and clarifying the law so that it is clear employers should protect their staff from being harassed by clients, customers, or other people from outside their organisation Whether interns and volunteers are adequately protected by current laws Whether people should be given longer to take a Read Full Article…

Data protection: ICO’s updated data sharing code of practice

The Information Commissioner (ICO) published a ‘consultation on the draft data sharing code of practice’ on 16 July 2019.  The ICO is required by the Data Protection Act 2018 to update its data sharing code of practice, which was published in 2011.  The ICO had launched a call for views in August 2018. The updated draft code seeks to address these views and explains and advises on data protection legislation where it is relevant to data sharing.  Some of the aspects covered are: transparency, lawful bases for processing, the new accountability principle, and the requirement to record processing activities.  It also provides practical guidance and good practice advice in the sharing of personal data. The consultation questions are as follows, and respondents are invited to provide further comments or suggestions: Does the updated code adequately explain and advise on the new aspects of data protection legislation which are relevant to data sharing? If not, please specify where improvements could be made. Does the draft code cover the right issues about data sharing? If no, what other issues would you like to be covered in it? Does the draft code contain the right level of detail? If no, in what areas should there be more detail within the draft code? Has the draft code sufficiently addressed new areas or developments in Read Full Article…

Governance: Government response to report on Bribery Act 2010

As reported in issue 101 of this newsletter, on 14 March 2019, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Bribery Act 2010 published its report ‘The Bribery Act 2010: post-legislative scrutiny’ as to whether the Act is achieving its intended purposes. Although the report concluded that ‘the Act is an excellent piece of legislation which creates offences which are clear and all-embracing’, a number of recommendations were made.  A summary of the conclusions and recommendations is available on page 107 of the report. On 13 May 2019, the government published its response to the review of the Act.  Although many of the responses simply noted the view of the committee, certain recommendations were rejected. For example, the recommendation that the Ministry of Justice should consider adding to its section 9 guidance, clearer examples of what might constitute acceptable corporate hospitality was rejected.  It is stated: ‘…the Government does not consider that it would be best placed to provide the bespoke, or more detailed clarification that the Committee suggests…’.  It also states: ‘The MoJ Guidance was drafted in a deliberately high-level, non-prescriptive way to encourage organisations to examine their own internal systems and procedures. As the Committee suggests, there are other organisations on a level closer to business such as professional organisations or trade associations that could provide sector specific Read Full Article…