Stone King’s Head of Business Sector, Peter Woodhouse, has been quoted by the Huffington Post in an article examining what employers can prevent staff doing in their free time.

His legal explanation comes after it was widely reported that the BBC was banning news and current affairs staff from taking part in ‘controversial’ events, with the organisation explaining it is striving not to show bias.

This is a classic example of where society recognises competing rights,” said Peter.

Here society would recognise a right to freedom of expression and association, but this could be pitched against the perceived benefit of the political impartiality of the BBC.

The law and employers can struggle with this, and here much will depend on how firm the BBC will be in its enforcement.

Ultimately, they might decide to dismiss someone and at the very least they will have to ensure that their policies are clear, up-to-date and applied consistently.

Their policies should specifically cover conduct outside work. Failures (to do this) in such areas could make a dismissal unfair.

Further, I would anticipate claims for discrimination, for example if the policy disproportionately impacts on someone from a particular race or ethnic origin. Such a measure must be justified and the reasoning behind it must be shown to be non-discriminatory. Here, the BBC’s reasoning is to prevent political bias and to ensure impartiality, however consistency and proportionality in the application of the measure will be key to reduce the risk of potential discrimination claims.

The Huffington Post article can be read in full here.