A clear message has been sent to employers that wherever possible they must
grant requests for flexible working from parents, following two employment
tribunal rulings last week.
Vehicle technician Neil Walkingshaw, whose employer the John Martin Group refused
to let him work part-time so he could help look after his son, won his sex
The tribunal, which awarded Walkingshaw £3,700, found that his company
"gave no meaningful consideration" to his request and that they would
have agreed a similar request from a woman.
In the second case former police constable Michelle Chew won an appeal
against Avon and Somerset Police after her request to work the same days each
week was refused.
The tribunal ruled that the force had breached the 1975 Sex Discrimination
Act because women are more likely to be looking after children.
Makbool Javaid, partner of law firm DLA said both cases were in line with
developing case law.
He said, "Employers must take notice. These two cases should start the
alarm bells ringing. The Government is sending very strong signals that it
wants employers to adopt a broader approach to requests for flexible working.
"The courts are listening to that signal and unless employers take heed
they will face litigation."
Javaid stressed the need for companies to be prepared to present the
business case for not granting requests for flexible working.
"At the end of the day businesses are there to be run efficiently.
Tribunals are not going to say employers must allow employees to work
unreasonable hours if there are good reasons why they shouldn’t."