Shorter Reads

New mother awarded £185,000 after employer refused flexible working

A new mother who had a her request for flexible working refused was reportedly awarded £185,000 by the Employment Tribunal.

1 minute read

Published 8 September 2021

Authors

Share

Key information

  • Specialisms
  • Business
  • Services
  • Employment law for employers
  • Employment law for employees

A new mother who had a her request for flexible working refused was reportedly awarded £185,000 by the Employment Tribunal. Estate agent Alice Thompson went on maternity leave in 2018, on her return to the workplace in 2019 she requested to work 4 days a week and to finish at 4pm so she could pick up her daughter from nursery.

Her employer refused to consider Ms Thompson’s request. Following a near 2 year battle, Ms Thompson was successful at Tribunal, which found that she had suffered indirect sex discrimination.

Ms Thompson was reported to have stated that her employer did not seriously consider her request for flexible working and she was told it would not work for the company. The company did not propose alternative arrangements that might suit the needs of both Ms Thompson and the business.

Employers should take note of this case and the large award given to Ms Thompson. The law is clear that employers must deal with an application for flexible working in a reasonable manner which, while not defined, will likely include but not limited to holding a meeting with the employee, assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application, and offering an appeal process to the employee of their request is refused. An employer can only refuse an application if they have a good business reason for doing so.

Any applications for flexible working should be dealt with seriously and carefully. Employers should implement a policy and procedure for dealing with them, and should adopt a consistent approach to all requests, clearly explaining the reason for any refusal and why they have a good business reason for doing so.

Failure to deal with an application in a reasonable manner can have serious and more far reaching consequences than an employer might expect. As here, a failure to deal with an application reasonably, or in some cases a refusal in itself, could also amount to an act of discrimination.

With flexible working applications on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are likely to face these issues more often and must take steps to avoid common pitfalls.

Message us on WhatsApp

Related latest updates
PREV NEXT

Related content

Arrow Back to Insights

Shorter Reads

New mother awarded £185,000 after employer refused flexible working

A new mother who had a her request for flexible working refused was reportedly awarded £185,000 by the Employment Tribunal.

Published 8 September 2021

Associated sectors / services

Authors

A new mother who had a her request for flexible working refused was reportedly awarded £185,000 by the Employment Tribunal. Estate agent Alice Thompson went on maternity leave in 2018, on her return to the workplace in 2019 she requested to work 4 days a week and to finish at 4pm so she could pick up her daughter from nursery.

Her employer refused to consider Ms Thompson’s request. Following a near 2 year battle, Ms Thompson was successful at Tribunal, which found that she had suffered indirect sex discrimination.

Ms Thompson was reported to have stated that her employer did not seriously consider her request for flexible working and she was told it would not work for the company. The company did not propose alternative arrangements that might suit the needs of both Ms Thompson and the business.

Employers should take note of this case and the large award given to Ms Thompson. The law is clear that employers must deal with an application for flexible working in a reasonable manner which, while not defined, will likely include but not limited to holding a meeting with the employee, assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application, and offering an appeal process to the employee of their request is refused. An employer can only refuse an application if they have a good business reason for doing so.

Any applications for flexible working should be dealt with seriously and carefully. Employers should implement a policy and procedure for dealing with them, and should adopt a consistent approach to all requests, clearly explaining the reason for any refusal and why they have a good business reason for doing so.

Failure to deal with an application in a reasonable manner can have serious and more far reaching consequences than an employer might expect. As here, a failure to deal with an application reasonably, or in some cases a refusal in itself, could also amount to an act of discrimination.

With flexible working applications on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are likely to face these issues more often and must take steps to avoid common pitfalls.

Associated sectors / services

Authors

Need some more information? Make an enquiry below.

    Subscribe

    Please add your details and your areas of interest below

    Specialist sectors:

    Legal services:

    Other information:

    Jurisdictions of interest to you (other than UK):

    Article contributor

    Enjoy reading our articles? why not subscribe to notifications so you’ll never miss one?

    Subscribe to our articles

    Message us on WhatsApp

    Please note that Collyer Bristow provides this service during office hours for general information and enquiries only and that no legal or other professional advice will be provided over the WhatsApp platform. Please also note that if you choose to use this platform your personal data is likely to be processed outside the UK and EEA, including in the US. Appropriate legal or other professional opinion should be taken before taking or omitting to take any action in respect of any specific problem. Collyer Bristow LLP accepts no liability for any loss or damage which may arise from reliance on information provided. All information will be deleted immediately upon completion of a conversation.

    I accept Close

    Close
    Scroll up
    ExpandNeed some help?Toggle

    Get in touch

    Get in touch using our form below.