Poppies in the workplace: the myths and realities

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It’s the time of year when companies are making headlines over their policy on wearing poppies at work. The experts at Personnel Today have outlined some myths and realities about the issue to help businesses avoid sticky situations with employees.

Myth: belief in the importance of the poppy is philosophical
Although companies that land in hot water over the issue of poppies have facts to support their decision, the truth is the belief in the importance of wearing a poppy is protected by the Equality Act of 2010.

In Lisk v Shield Guardian Co Ltd, an employment judge held that an ex-serviceman’s belief that employees should pay respects to those who have given their lives in service to the country was too narrow to be a philosophical belief.

Reality: poppies in the workplace can still lead to discrimination claims
Although various court cases have upheld individuals’ rights to wear poppies at work, it’s still possible for a company to face discrimination claims if it forces employees to wear one. The wearing of poppies must be a matter of choice for employees.

Myth: health and safety policies justify a complete ban on poppies
In November 2014, pub chain Brewers Fayre allegedly told staff they could not wear poppies because of health and safety concerns. KFC is currently making headlines for the same issue. Brewers Fayre later clarified that employees can wear a poppy in a food preparation area if it has a secure clasp rather than a single pin. It’s unlikely blanket bans on poppies would be required by health and safety laws.

Reality: health and safety risks could justify a ban in some work areas
In the cases of Brewers Fayre and KFC, employers may have to limit when and how poppies are worn in some work areas for health and safety reasons. This is particularly true for food preparation areas, to avoid them falling into food, or where machinery is involved, where foreign objects falling in could cause the machine to break.

Companies that introduce such a policy need to set clear guidelines for when, where and how poppies can and cannot be worn, as well as the rationale behind the rule.

Read the original article at bit.ly/1XRKZxc

 

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    AUTHOR

    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson