09 March 2017 #Employment
In Fidessa Plc v Lancaster, the claimant, on return from maternity leave, agreed to work 9am-5pm four days a week. It was agreed that there may be flexibility here but that the claimant would be allowed to leave by 5pm (so that she could pick up her child) and could log on later and work remotely if needed. During a subsequent restructure, the claimant was made redundant. She was unable to apply for a new role as they all required working past 5pm. The claimant brought claims for unfair dismissal, indirect sex discrimination and part-time worker detriment.
The EAT upheld all three claims. It found that the claimant had suffered less favourable treatment on the grounds of her part-time status when Fidessa reneged on its agreement that she could leave by 5pm. Further, the requirement to work past 5pm was more likely to affect women due to childcare responsibilities and, in this instance, could not be justified particularly as there had been no consideration of alternative ways of working.
This case serves as a reminder to employers to consider carefully any policies or practices they have around working hours which may put certain employees at a disadvantage. Contact our employment team for more information and help in these areas.