I was recruited on a part-time basis just over a year ago. The opportunities in the team I’m responsible for have grown / my team are winning business and the company now either want me to go full-time, or are saying I need to resign..or they will make me redundant as the job is now full-time. They feel the COO should never have agreed to employee for this position part-time. The 3 days per week is proving a challenge (I’m always doing 4 days!). They are not open to exploring job share opportunities at all & dismiss it. I’d appreciate advice on where I stand on this and what approach I should take.
I understand that you were recruited on a part-time basis just over a year ago. Your employer now wants to change your role to full-time or wants you to resign because your job is now full-time. Your employer states that your part-time role is redundant.
Unless your employer has a contractual right to do this (which is unlikely), your employer cannot change your role from a part-time to a full-time role without your agreement. If your employer attempts to change your terms and conditions of employment without your consent, you have a number of options. You could work under the new terms and conditions but make it clear that you do not agree to the change. You could then submit a claim for breach of contract. It is unlikely that you would be able to show any financial losses resulting from the breach of contract and this would mean that your only remedy for breach of contract would be a declaration that the variation was a breach of your contract of employment or an injunction stopping your employer from breaching your contract of employment. Your other option would be to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal, but unfortunately you need two years’ continuous employment to submit this claim at an employment tribunal and therefore this avenue would not be available to you until you meet this requirement.
If your employer dismisses you for not agreeing to the change in your working hours, your remedy would be an unfair dismissal claim in the employment tribunal, but unfortunately, again, you need two years’ continuity of employment for this claim. Your employer should, however, pay you your contractual notice entitlement and if it does not, you would have a wrongful dismissal claim. Your employer has also mentioned redundancy. However, a need to increase working hours is not a redundancy situation, although it is possible that your employer mistakenly believes that it is. In any event, you are not legally entitled to a redundancy payment until you have two years’ continuity of employment.
It is generally acknowledged that a requirement to work full-time rather than part-time could be capable of amounting to indirect sex discrimination, as more women than men have family responsibilities that make full-time work more difficult. However, the requirement will not be discriminatory if it is objectively justified by your employer. In your case, your employer may be able to justify a requirement for full-time, rather than part-time hours, on the basis that the business is growing and your team are winning business. When considering changing your role from part-time to full-time role, your employer should be clear about the aim they are seeking to achieve, and consider whether there are any less discriminatory ways of achieving it. It could, for example, consider job-share or splitting a full-time role into two part-time roles as potential ways of seeking to avoid indirect discrimination against you.
I would advise you as a first step to submit a grievance stating that you do not agree to your employer changing your hours and that you consider this is discriminatory on the grounds of sex. Depending on how your employer handles your grievance, you should then consider submitting a sex discrimination claim. This must be submitted at the employment tribunal within three months of the discriminatory act, which in your case, would be i) the change to your terms and conditions of employment from part-time to full-time, if you remain an employee or ii) the date you are dismissed for not agreeing to go full-time.
Please contact Tracey Guest on 0161 975 3823 if you would like further advice in relation to this matter.