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£18,000 award following unjustified changes to flexible working arrangements

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An ET has awarded a female therapist £18,000 for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination after she lost her job because she could not work weekends. Health Club Management report that Emma Holt, who had worked for the employer for almost a decade, had a flexible working agreement to only work from Monday to Friday because of childcare needs. She would only work weekends in exceptional circumstances, such as a colleague being sick.

In early 2016 Holt claimed that senior managers tried to impose weekend working. Holt had looked into paid childcare but said there were no weekend facilities available in her area. She raised a formal grievance, but a senior manager failed to carry out any meaningful investigation into Holt’s complaints. Holt told her employer that her personal life did not allow her to work weekends and that she had always given maximum commitment to the company. Holt said enforcing a change to her work pattern was breaching her flexible work agreement. When she refused to undertake weekend working, she was dismissed as ‘redundant’.

The company admitted unfair dismissal, but rejected charges of sex discrimination. However, the ET accepted Holt suffered “anger, distress and affront” as a result of the firm’s indirect discrimination. Holt was awarded £18,399, which included £10,399 for unfair dismissal and £8,000 for injury to her feelings.

The aim of this update is to provide summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. In particular, where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented by the parties and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Click on the links provided to access full details. If no link is provided, contact us for further details.  Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, SM&B cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.

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