We are inevitably seeing a rise in coronavirus related tribunal claims, this is exacerbated by the fact that there is a huge back-log due to pandemic related delays. Many of these claims are centred around ageism; age is a legally protected characteristic, just like gender, ethnicity, religion and disability.
Unemployment levels among workers in their 50s and 60s have soared by around 50% over the last year, and redundancies among the over-50s hit a record high in 2020. As a result, many people over 50 have had to turn to the employment tribunal to seek support. Further, previously unheard of, issues as a result of the pandemic such as furlough leave, self-isolation and making workplaces “COVID secure” have been the cause of various claims, and undoubtedly there will be more to come in the near future. These issues have been testing for everyone, as there have been no previous pandemics of this nature, in our lifetimes, to base guidance on.
There have been innumerable changes to government guidance, and sometimes there has been some ambiguity in what employee’s are and are not allowed to expect from their employers. Due to this, many people have opted to err on the side of caution and follow government guidance to the letter, even if some parts are simply encouraged and not legal. This has caused issues for employees and employers alike.
Another group affected in the workplace has been those who are pregnant, it has not always been clear whether or not they are at a higher risk of contracting covid-19 and the severity of their symptoms compared to members of the public who are not pregnant. Employers should continue to follow government guidance and seek professional HR support where they are unsure.