Sex-bias ruling not cut and dry, warn lawyers

Service requirements before confirmation of a new job or for promotion could
be discriminatory, even though the landmark ruling of Seymour-Smith went
against the employees, lawyers have warned.

Last month the House of Lords ruled that the two-year qualifying period
before gaining protection from unfair dismissal, introduced in 1985, was not
indirect discrimination against women.

The Lords ruled that the Government was justified to have a qualifying
period to make it easier to recruit.

But three of the five Lords ruled that there is a slight but consistent
tendency for men to work longer than women.

This means that, say, a five-year qualifying period for promotion may be

"You would have to justify it if you claimed you needed to be there for
five years for promotion: you would have to provide hard evidence," said
Linda Jones, associate at Wragge & Co.

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