Following consultation, the Government has confirmed its intention to abolish statutory HR questionnaires.
The questionnaire procedure, at present, allows individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against to question the alleged discriminator by posing a series of question or requesting information. Employers are not obliged to respond, but a failure to do so or an answer that is equivocal or evasive, may allow a tribunal to draw adverse inferences.
Despite widespread opposition to the abolition of the questionnaire procedure, the Govt is to push ahead with its plans to abolish them. Somewhat bizarrely, the Govt has stated that individuals can still ask their employer questions to establish if discriminatory treatment has occurred, and tribunals can still take into account any refusal to respond; it will just not be done through a formal process. Further, it will open to individuals, who have raised tribunal proceedings, to seek formal orders from the tribunal for an employer to disclose the information sought.
It all rather begs the question of what exactly is going to be achieved by the abolition of the statutory HR process beyond the Govt being able to trumpet one less piece of ‘red tape’, even if this brings no real tangible benefits to employers.