Everyone’s Invited – employment law

Many testimonials on the Everyone’s Invited website involve allegations of sexual abuse and violence made by students and/or former students against both existing and former staff of schools, colleges and universities.

It is vital not only in terms of an educational institution’s statutory safeguarding obligations to its students and staff but also as a matter of best employment practice that such allegations are taken very seriously and properly investigated following the organisation’s own procedures.

Many organisations have in place a specific sexual harassment policy or an anti-harassment and bullying policy and procedure. Where they do not then they should follow ACAS’s Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

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Non-Disclosure Agreements in Scotland

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) were originally used to keep commercial business information and trade secrets confidential.

In more recent years, the use of NDAs to try to silence allegations of abuse and harassment has generated significant publicity. There is no sign of that controversy abating.

Earlier this month, the Arbitration service Acas published guidance to firms and workers about NDAs, including how to avoid misuse. The point is made that NDAs cannot prevent an individual from reporting wrongdoing in the public interest, known as making a protected disclosure or ‘whistleblowing’. This could include disclosing a criminal offence, dangers to health and safety, or failure to comply with a legal obligation. NDAs also cannot prevent an individual from taking a matter to an employment tribunal. The advice given by Acas to employees is to consult a trade union or lawyer when considering signing an NDA.

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