Flexible working request costs employer £100,000

A care home manager submitted a request to reduce her working time from five to four days a week, in a bid to avoid going off sick. Having suffered a stroke a few years previous and battling a chronic heart condition, both were impacting on her energy levels.

The tribunal heard that the request was “reluctantly” agreed to on a three-month trial basis. However, within 2 weeks of the trial the employee was invited to a disciplinary for allegations of misconduct relating to an administration mistake.

According to the tribunal, the employee had made “a minor error, whilst under the significant pressures of work,”. She attended a disciplinary meeting and was told she was being let go, as she was “struggling to cope” with the “physically demanding” role, adding that she’d been found guilty of “gross misconduct”.

The employee was successful in her employment tribunal claim citing “the misconduct charges were a pretext for dismissing her and that the true reasons related to her earlier flexible working request which, in turn, related to disability.”

The employment judge ruled that the manager had been looking for an opportunity to dismiss and that there were failings in the disciplinary process. The investigation had serious flaws and there was no proper consideration of the allegations, resulting in the claimant not having an opportunity to consider the case against her, after service of over 20 years with an unblemished record. 

The compensation awarded for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal was £100,840.

Do not to be tempted to act too quickly in either disciplining or dismissing an employee and take advice from 121 HR Solutions. Disciplinary procedure risks cost significant time and money if not conducted adequately.

121 HR Solutions is running a Workplace Investigations workshop on 2nd and 11th November and a Disciplinary and Grievances workshop on 28th and 29th November.

For booking information, click here: Event Bookings | 121HR Solutions – Glasgow

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