12 July 2019 #Employment
Climate crisis protesters are urging the UK workforce to follow their student counterparts and take part in a worldwide strike, starting on 20 September 2019.
This is being organised by Global Climate Strike; who are calling on people across the world to “stop “business as usual” in the face of the climate emergency.”
It is a good time to start planning now for how your business will respond to any disruption. You may be faced with an increased number of employees submitting leave requests for example, or staff may call in sick to attend.
The EAT held in the case of Grainger PLC & Ors v Nicholson that the Claimant’s belief in climate change amounted to a “philosophical belief”, with the meaning of Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. He was therefore afforded protection from discrimination under Equality Act 2010.
Although this case had very particular facts, employers should still be mindful of the potential risk of discrimination of dismissing employees for striking – as well as the negative press this could attract.
The strikes present an interesting challenge for businesses, especially those who hold themselves out as being environmentally ethical. Employees may expect their employers to support them striking, because to not do so would undermine corporate values on sustainability.
Some large corporates have already said they will offer free annual leave so that staff can attend the strikes. However, this may not be finically or commercially viable for all.
Being proactive now may be the best way to prepare. Engage with employees to assess levels of support for the strike to plan for and negate any adverse action that staff may otherwise take.