Pride season: alternative family arrangements and implications of will writing and employment law

August 23, 2019

Pride season is well underway with Cheshire hosting events throughout 2019, catering for the growing LGBT+ community. There are further events scheduled, including in Manchester between Friday 23 and Monday 26 August and Chester on Sunday 22 September.

Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales came into force in 2014 and the most recent set of stats (released in March by the Office for National Statistics) show that:

  • There were 7,019 marriages between same-sex couples in 2016, an increase of 8.1 per cent from 2015
  • More than 10,000 same-sex couples converted their civil partnership into a marriage in 2015 and 2016


We spoke to some of our experts about the rise in alternative family arrangements and whether there are any implications for writing a will and employment law.


Writing a will

Alex Mitchell, partner and head of the private client department at Watsons Solicitors, said: “We advise any person getting married, regardless of whether it is same or opposite sex, to have their existing will reviewed. A change in circumstance such as marriage or entering a new relationship can affect the legality and interpretation of a will.

“It’s also important to note that cohabitees do not receive the same entitlement as a married couple in the event of a death. For example, in the event of a death, the surviving partner is not automatically entitled to the estate, even if they have children together.

“In addition, there is no forced heirship in England and Wales, which means you do not have to leave something to someone eg a family member you have fallen out with and no longer speak to.

“A qualified wills and probate solicitor will be able to guide you through the process.”


Employment law

Latham Parry, partner and head of employment law at Watsons Solicitors, said: “Employers and employees should be fully aware of what the Equality Act (2010) covers, and the impact this can have in the workplace.

“For example, employers should be aware of their duties and obligations under the Act to make sure employees aren’t treated unfairly or discriminated against because of a ‘protected characteristic’, which includes but is not limited to: sexual orientation; gender reassignment; and marriage or civil partnership.

“Employers should also be aware of their potential liabilities for any discrimination or harassment related to these ‘protected characteristics’, whether committed by the organisation or by any of its employees or agents.

“We recommend that employers speak to an employment lawyer to ensure they have suitable policies in place, to raise awareness and make it clear that unlawful conduct will not be tolerated, as well as spelling out the potential disciplinary consequences for anyone who breaches the policy.

“We also recommend that managers receive training on these policies so that any signs of discrimination or harassment can be properly handled at the earliest opportunity.

“For employees, we urge them to be aware of their rights and what they can do if they feel they have been discriminated against or subjected to any harassment. Again, we suggest they seek advice from an employment solicitor if they are unsure.”

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