Unfair Dismissal - Employment Tribunal rules that Part-time Employee was unfairly dismissed as job role turned into full time position

ET rules in favour of claimant as business fails to provide valid business reasons for change in job role 

The Sheffield Employment Tribunal has found that Capita Customer Management Services has indirectly discriminated against a part time employee when they failed to provide evidence when restructuring her job role to a full time position.

In September 2017 the claimant submitted a flexible working as a result of the difficulty she was experiencing with her children’s health which was declined but was offered a possibility of a job share with another worker who was due to return from maternity leave. Mrs McBride accepted the proposal and it was confirmed in writing from her manager in November of 2017 that she was now employed on a permanent part time basis but by the December of that same year the role has become diluted as management had given the two employees separate projects.

At ET it was heard that the organisation was going through “highly turbulent times” and the management had to as a result review the job roles within the business inline with initiatives within the organisation. With this in mind the management felt the roles would need to be carried out on a full-time basis to ensure all the business hours were sufficiently covered and as a result the job share was no more feasible although no evidence was provided to support this.

In April 2018 McBride was informed that there was a restructure and commenced consultation whereby she was informed that all the new roles would be on a full-time basis only. She attended consultation meetings during May and June of that year, but any alternatives offered where not suitable as they were on a full-time basis and formal notice of redundancy was given on 15 June. Mrs McBride appealed this decision, but the redundancy decision was upheld, and she served her notice period and was terminated in the September and as a result brought claims of unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination.

At ET the judge stated that a reasonable employer would not take the risk of making a important decision such as whether a roles was effectively a full time position without the support of factual evidence and upheld the claims of unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination. In conclusion Judge Little stated that the employer should “have given the job share a fair trail period, respecting detailed plans that the two senior job-sharing employees concerned had prepared”.

Full judgement can be reviewed here.

What does this mean for your business?

This ruling demonstrates to employers that the details of flexible working arrangements should be fully considered before a decision is made on their viability. It highlights that yif our business feels that a job share situation is not working then they need be prepared to provide valid business reasons to justify their decision. In failing to do so it leaves employers open to an unfair dismissal claim.

Our experts can ensure that your business is limiting the risk when making decisions around working patterns or redundancy – call us today on  0844 327 2293

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