· News

Nearly half hear discriminatory remarks every week

A third of employees do not know what discrimination policies or guidelines are in place at their organisation

Nearly half of employees (46%) hear discriminatory remarks on a weekly basis, according to research by Turbervilles Solicitors.

The survey of 1,000 UK employees found this rises to seven in ten (72%) on a monthly basis, and that five in ten employees aged 25-34 (49%) had heard discriminatory remarks at work.

Despite this high prevalence of discrimination, nearly two thirds (62%) of employees do nothing about it or laugh it off, with just 4% of employees raising the issue formally.

A key issue, the research suggested, is that not enough staff are aware whether their employer has a policy or guidelines on acceptable verbal and written communication within the workplace. A third of employees (33%) did not know what measures were in place, while 28% said there were no policies in place.

The survey also found that of the four in ten employees who use social media at work, more than a quarter (27%) had received or heard discriminatory remarks via these channels.

Employment specialist and partner at Turbervilles Solicitors Marc Jones said: “Over the past 40 years, the government has worked hard to to tackle discrimination in the UK by passing a number of laws including the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975, The Race Relations Act in 1976 and the Disability Act in 1995 and, more recently, the Equality Act in 2010. Yet despite all this legislation, our recent research shows discrimination is still rife in the workplace – particularly amongst the millennial workers.”

He added: “This should be a big wake up call for employers who must adopt a zero tolerance approach to acts of discrimination in the workplace. Having policies such as an equal opportunities policy, anti-harassment policy and/or a dignity at work policy is a good starting point.

"But it is not enough for employers to simply pay lip service to these policies… It is vital regular training and education about these policies takes place and permeates to everyone in the organisation, so they have a much better understanding about what is acceptable behaviour.”

Jones added the warning that: “If employees feel their employer does little to combat discrimination in the workplace, then they may take such discriminatory conduct further and instigate employment tribunal proceedings.”