7 March 2014: Statutory Discrimination Questionnaires on their way out:
For many years, employees have been able to issue statutory discrimination questionnaires to ask questions and to request certain documents, to assist them in deciding whether to bring a claim of unlawful discrimination. Employers were not obliged to respond but if they failed to do so, or answered equivocally, Tribunals could draw adverse inferences from that failure.
The statutory discrimination questionnaire procedure will be largely defunct from the 6th April 2014. ACAS has published guidance about asking and responding to questions relating to workplace discrimination after the abolition of the statutory procedure. The guidance is non statutory and is not binding on tribunals. Click here for the guidance. The ACAS guidance gives tips on answering and sets out a template to help organise answers.
Employees sometimes use statutory questionnaires tactically to make prying enquiries or to encourage the employer to settle. After the 6th April, employers may choose not to answer questionnaires at all or at least do so more briefly. Alternatively they may simply refer the employee to their grievance procedure.
Employees may still seek disclosure of documents as part of the grievance procedure or under the Data Protection Act 1998. However employers will be under less pressure to answer far-ranging and awkward questions than they were.
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