Failure to consider childcare resulted in pay out of over £25k!

A shop assistant was constructively unfairly dismissed after her manager told her to bring her daughter into work because she could not find childcare, a tribunal has found.


The tribunal heard that the claimant, who was the sole carer for her eight-year-old child, was put at a disadvantage when she was asked to start working weekends because she could not afford childcare and did not have anyone who could look after them.


The judge concluded that the employer, WH Smith Retail Holdings, had a legitimate need to schedule weekday workers to work on the weekend, but that “no consideration or exploration of any other less discriminatory way” of achieving this was explored.


It was found that suggesting bringing the child to work showed that the employer knew the employee had “obvious and significant” childcare issues and the manager’s disregard for childcare needs was likely to have destroyed or seriously damaged the relationship of trust and confidence.


The issue arose when the businessidentified a business need to introduce a Saturday rota for the weekday staff to work one weekend day a month because of operational and budget restraints in the store caused by failing sales revenue.This coincided with the departure of university students who worked weekends only, and the manager proposed that weekday staff should work flexibly on a rota.


The tribunal heard that on numerous occasions the claimant tried to raise the issue of childcare.The judge noted that the requirement for members of staff to work one Saturday in four “put women at a particular group disadvantage when compared with men” because they are still statistically more likely to be primary child carers or single parents, disadvantaging them when it comes to working on Saturdays when schools are closed.  The employee felt that she had no choice but to resign and then claimed that she had been constructively, unfairly dismissed.


It is significant that the success of this case hinged on the fact that the employer failed to look at ways in which the employee could be exempt from working weekends, such as hiring a new member of staff or sharing the workload. The employee was awarded £25,558 in compensation.

Such requests should always be considered by the employer, and 121 HR Solutions has experience in supporting clients with flexible working considerations. Contact us on 0800 9995 121 to discuss.


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