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Changing working arrangements could be discriminatory
Trying to make changes to working arrangements can be fraught with difficulties and cost one employer £18,000 recently when an Employment Tribunal found that the employer had unfairly dismissed an employee and subjected her to indirect sex discrimination.

Emma Holt worked for a fitness centre for almost 10 years and had a flexible working agreement with her employers to work only on Mondays to Fridays to accommodate her son and childcare needs. She had told them that she would only work weekends in exceptional circumstances – to cover a sick colleague, for example – because she was unable to arrange childcare cover.

However, in early 2016, senior managers at the fitness centre insisted she work weekends. Holt claimed the proposed rota would not bring any additional benefits to the company, and persisted in her refusal to work weekend shifts. She looked into paid childcare but there were no weekend facilities open in her area.

She raised a formal grievance, but the tribunal heard that a senior manager did not conduct “any meaningful investigation” into Holt’s complaints. She was later made redundant.

Holt took her case to an Employment Tribunal and it found that she had been unfairly dismissed and subject to indirect sex discrimination. Because it is only a tribunal case, it is not binding on other cases, but if you wish to change an employees working arrangements, please seek advice before starting the consultation process to minimise the risk of this happening to your business.
Posted on 05 Jan 2017

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