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Employment Alert – Female estate agent awarded £184,961.32 in compensation following indirect sex discrimination claim

Woman entering residential building

Female estate agent awarded £184,961.32 in compensation following indirect sex discrimination claim

What’s happening?

A female employee has been awarded £184,961.32 in compensation after successfully claiming indirect sex discrimination against her employer following a flexible working request.

The claimant was employed as a sales manager at a small independent estate agent. On her return to work following maternity leave, she made a flexible working request to reduce her hours to 4 days per week, leaving an hour early each day to pick up her child from nursery. The flexible working request was rejected and the employee resigned.

The Tribunal decided that the requirement to work 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday placed the employee at a disadvantage due to her childcare requirements.

It was decided that the employer’s reason for refusing the request did not convincingly outweigh the discriminatory impact on the employee. The employer had failed to show that the refusal was proportionate to the real need of the business to maintain successful relations with customers.

Why is this important?

It is a reminder that a requirement to work full time leaves employers open to indirect sex discrimination complaints. This is because (statistically) mothers are more likely to take primary care responsibility than fathers and are therefore less able to work full time hours.

It is a reminder to employers that they need to approach the requirement to work full time in a sympathetic manner, balancing the needs of the employee as well as those of the business.

What should you do?

  1. Put in place and follow a clear and comprehensive flexible working process when responding to flexible working requests.
  2. Consider whether any requirements to work particular hours may place female employees with childcare responsibilities at a particular disadvantage.
  3. Ensure that any reason for refusing a flexible working request fits within one of the prescribed statutory reasons and is objectively justifiable.

We suggest you seek legal advice before responding to a flexible working request or implementing new working hours and/or arrangements.

If you need more information please contact us on 0800 2800 421 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.

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