£185,00 payout won by woman who had her flexible work request refused
An Employment Tribunal has held that a claimant who had her flexible working request refused had been discriminated against on the grounds of sex.
She was awarded compensation of almost £185,000 for loss of earnings, pension contributions, injury to feelings and interest.
The claimant worked for an estate agent, Manors, and asked to work four days a week and leave the office at 5pm (rather than the usual office finish time of 6pm) so that she could pick up her daughter from nursery. She was told by the company director that this wasn't possible. He claimed that the business could not afford for her to work part-time, and cited detrimental effects on the ability to meet customer demand and an inability to reorganise work among existing staff as reasons for declining her request. The claimant launched a grievance about the way her flexible working request was handled and then left the company for good in December 2019. The tribunal found that the failure to consider the claimant's flexible working request properly was discriminatory on grounds of sex.
This decision is a salutary reminder for recruiters that their clients should consider requests for flexible working seriously. This is particularly the case now given the shift in working patterns ushered in as a result of the pandemic. Employers who are not prepared to be flexible will have to prepare themselves for potential candidates to walk away and/or bring claims for discrimination.