Earlier this month, the Employment Appeals Tribunal ruled on a case that serves as a valuable reminder to employers on the importance of regular and high-quality training, particularly when defending claims of discrimination and harassment.
In this particular case, an employee with just under 1 year’s service, was dismissed by his employer due to poor performance. After their dismissal, the employee alleged that they had been subjected to racial harassment by a colleague and brought a claim for racial discrimination against the company. Their former employers argued that they had taken all reasonable steps to prevent this from happening as they had arranged for employees to receive equality and diversity training 2 years earlier. However, the tribunal found that they were liable for this behaviour as the training had taken place some time ago and was, therefore ‘stale’. They could not be said to have taken 'all reasonable steps’ as a reasonable step would have been to carry out the training more regularly. The employer appealed, but on 4 February the Employment Appeals Tribunal rejected their appeal and upheld the tribunal’s decision.
“brief and superficial training is unlikely to have a substantial effect in preventing harassment. Such training is also unlikely to have long-lasting consequences. Thorough and forcefully presented training is more likely to be effective, and to last longer."
We spoke to Gill McAteer, Head of Employment Law at Citation on the matter…
“Discrimination claims can be incredibly costly for businesses, both in terms of damage to reputation and in terms of financial loss as there are no limits to the compensation which can be awarded against the business. Very often, employers rely upon having an equality and diversity policy backed up by some form of generalised training. This case illustrates that in order to protect your business from claims arising from unacceptable, discriminatory conduct which may happen without your knowledge, having a policy in place backed up by outdated training is not going to be enough to satisfy the ‘all reasonable steps’ test. To satisfy this test the company will be expected to show that its equality and diversity training is up to date, of good quality and covers not only acceptable behaviour within the workplace but the action employees and managers should take when faced with unacceptable behaviour.”
So how regularly should staff be trained?
Here at iHASCO, we recommend that core Health & Safety training is completed at least annually by staff and it’s what over 95% of our clients opt for when carrying out their staff training.
Some legislation such as the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 and The Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 refers to the need for training to be carried out when employees join and then ‘repeated periodically and when circumstances change’.
And interestingly to achieve the British Standards Kite Mark (BS 9999, fire safety of buildings) training MUST be offered at LEAST once a year.
Looking at training in general though, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer and quite rightly so in our view as there are millions of unknown variables within each workplace and even each employee. In this case, however, a gap of over 2 years deemed the training to be ‘stale’ and so we would urge employers to err on the side of caution and be more proactive when it comes to training staff, particularly in areas such as Health & Safety, HR and Compliance.
And high-quality training? The answer is simple!
If you’re looking for high-quality training, then you’re already in the right place!
At iHASCO, we pride ourselves on the quality of our course content, making sure that our courses are meticulously researched, written to be engaging and informative, and then filmed and animated to create an end product that far exceeds the ‘norm’ of workplace training!
We even put all of our courses through a quality review process, which answers the following three questions:
- Is it engaging?
- Is it simple?
- Is it useful?
Or, see for yourself! Get started with a free, no-obligation trial of our entire course library today!