Israel-Hamas Conflict: Can HR Help Staff Affected?

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Photo Credits - Julia Taubitz via Unsplash

Many people have been affected directly or indirectly following the upsetting events in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Furthermore, the UK has seen a rise in Islamophobia and anti-semitism, with the London police reporting these increases. As a result, HR should consider the employee support they can provide to those affected to look after their well-being.

We discuss the figures published by the London police and explore how HR can protect employees’ mental health at work. Should you believe you aren’t being provided the support you’re entitled to by your employer, contact Redmans Solicitors today.

An Increase in Hate Crime Following the Israel-Hamas Conflict

The London police have reported an increase in hate crimes following the Israel-Hamas conflict. Despite increasing police presence, antisemitic offences have risen by 1,353%, and Islamophobic offences have gone up by 140% in London.

They reported that antisemitic offences have gone from 15 cases between 01 October and 18 October 2022 to 218 this year in the same period. Meanwhile, Islamophobic offences have risen from 42 to 101 in the same period.

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What’s more, the Community Security Trust, a charity that protects British Jews, have said they have recorded 457 antisemitic offences since the recent events. TellMAMA, the national project that records anti-muslim incidents in the UK, have stated 200 cases of Islamophobic offences since the events.

From all these reports, it’s clear that hate crimes have increased since the devastating events of the conflict. Therefore, HR should do all they can to prevent hate crimes in the workplace. This is in addition to supporting those who are understandably upset and affected by the conflict.

How HR can Support Those Affected by the Israel-Hamas Conflict

The Israel-Hamas conflict has tragically resulted in a significant loss of human life. This could have impacted employees in many ways, directly or indirectly. Therefore, employers should consider what employee support they can provide to help those who need it.

Although the conflict involves contentious viewpoints, employers shouldn’t hesitate to offer support. They aren’t required to know everything about the topic; they just need to show compassion. What’s important is that managers are well-trained to correctly deal with those affected so that they listen well and provide appropriate support.

HR can create an inclusive environment by encouraging employees to discuss their mental health. Furthermore, spotting employee behaviour changes and checking in with them shows employers care.

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Additionally, HR can offer those affected by the conflict flexible working arrangements to help them deal with the emotional distress. Among other things, this could include allowing those affected to work from home. Removing office stress and feeling home comforts may help those affected to grieve or digest their emotions.

Moreover, HR should ensure they have effective reporting procedures in place. Not only will this build trust with those affected, but it will also help remove offensive behaviour from the workplace.

Flexible Working – a Legal Requirement

If an employee’s mental health is severely affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict, it could be classed as a disability. In such circumstances, an employer would be legally obligated to support the employee to avoid disability discrimination.

Under the Equality Act 2010, if an individual’s mental health substantially affects their ability to function normally for at least 12 months, they could be classed as disabled. If this is the case, employers must ensure they don’t discriminate against them and provide suitable, reasonable adjustments.

Reasonable adjustments can take many forms and may include:

  • Allowing employees to start and finish work earlier. This could be relevant if an employee expresses their religion visually. In such circumstances, allowing them to travel to and from work at quieter times may reduce the chance of them experiencing a hate crime.
  • Enabling employees to take regular breaks. This may help if they experience sudden or frequent anxiety attacks.
  • Offering paid time off whilst an employee seeks mental health support. For example, they could visit a therapist.

Supposing an employer doesn’t make reasonable adjustments an employee is legally entitled to, this could be considered disability discrimination. In such circumstances, an employee could make an informal complaint, followed by a formal one, if the matter isn’t resolved. However, if the issue remains unresolved, the employee could make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Employees across the UK could be impacted by the devastating loss of life caused by the Israel-Hamas conflict. Employers should ensure they provide the correct support level for those affected. If you believe you aren’t receiving the support you’re entitled to, contact Redmans Solicitors for help now.

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