Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Guidance

Keeping records on personnel

An important ruling from the House of Lords has removed the limitation on claims for personal injury. This means that a claim against a former member of staff for abuse can be brought at any time after the abuse; it will be up to the judge to consider what is fair and equitable. The limitation previously applied was six years from the point at which the person became an adult (their 18th birthday).

An action can now also be brought on the same terms against the school or college, as the institution is vicariously responsible for the acts of its employee. Before this judgement, claims could only be made on an unlimited time scale in negligence; and it is a defence against negligence that all reasonable steps have been taken.

The immediate implication is on record-keeping. Schools and colleges will need to keep indefinitely any data that may at some point in the future be of use in meeting a claim. Data on staff will need to be kept indefinitely as a matter of course. There will need to be a conscious process of deciding which data files to retain.

Workplace discrimination

Workplace discrimination made its way into the headlines in February, with a question of whether discrimination against a mother of a disabled child is direct discrimination by reason of disability and so falls foul of community law. The opinion given by the advocate general was that it does.

The case arose from an employment tribunal over flexible working and harassment in a London law firm but it will have wider application - if it is upheld. The court does not always follow the advocate general's view but if it does, it will mark a significant shift in the law on disability.

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