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Flexible Working Unfair Dismissal Case

View profile for Kim Hayton
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Our specialist team at FDR HR will comment on recent Employment Law Cases and highlight how HR personnel and businesses can learn from the judgements.

Holt vs Bannatyne Fitness

Emma Holt a beauty therapist who worked at Bannatyne Fitness in Carlisle has been awarded £18,000 by the Employment Tribunal in an unfair dismissal case.

It was determined that she had suffered sex discrimination after being made redundant after a row over childcare arrangements.

She had worked at Bannatyne for almost 10 years on a flexible working agreement working Monday to Friday to accommodate her childcare needs.  Weekend work was only under exceptional circumstances, covering holidays or sickness.

Earlier this year, senior managers changed the rota which meant she would need to work weekends.  She claimed it would not bring any additional benefits to the Company and as she was also unable to find paid childcare in her area she refused to work weekend shifts.

A formal grievance was raised but senior management did not conduct “any meaningful investigation” into Holt’s complaints, the tribunal heard. Then she was made redundant.

Emma was quoted at the Tribunal “Enforcing a change to my work pattern is breaching my flexible work agreement. I do feel this is unfair on the grounds that I have worked continually for the company and with very little absence over the 10 years for either myself or my child.”

The tribunal ruled in favour of Emma and agreed that she had been unfairly dismissed and suffered sex discrimination. She was awarded £18,399.

Kim says “This is a classic case of a situation that has got out of hand.  It could have been resolved to the mutual benefit of both parties at an earlier stage especially when it was evident that the flexible working arrangement had worked well for several years and Emma Holt was considered a good employee.  At the point an agreement couldn’t be reached which resulted in the grievance, the management had a duty to investigate thoroughly and should have kept this separate from any restructuring plans.”

For guidance on Flexible Working Arrangements contact Kim Hayton at FDR HR on 01925 230000 or by email kim.hayton@fdrlaw.co.uk