Part-time trial not working: ask the expert

I have returned back to work after my maternity leave and I was refused to go back part time or job share in my senior role. However, my employer offered me a part-time trial period on a demoted role with less salary. My trial period is now ending and my part-time trial period is not working for me. It is working for the organisation, but not for me as my workload seems to be increasing. They have restructured and offered my job to an external person. What rights do I have and what can I do?

Woman working part-time from home


It appears that you submitted a flexible working request on your return to work which was refused. It is not clear from the information provided whether this was a fair decision. Flexible working requests may only be refused on certain grounds as follows:

– the burden of additional costs;

– the detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;

– the inability to reorganise work among existing staff;

– the inability to recruit additional staff;

– a detrimental impact on quality;

– the detrimental impact on performance;

– the insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work;

– planned structural changes.

If your flexible working request was wrongly refused then you may have a claim for sex discrimination and under the flexible working provisions.

In relation to the trial period that you have undertaken, this would normally allow you to return to your old job if the trial did not work out. You say that your employer has re-structured and your job has been given to someone else. It is not clear whether part of the restructure involved potential redundancies. Either way you would normally have been included in either the redundancy pool or the selection for new jobs or if your role was not affected by the restructure, then you should have been consulted over in respect of the possibility of your job being offered to someone else to check whether you wanted to return to that job.

Potentially there are issues of sex discrimination and/or breach of trust and confidence which may give you the right to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal (but do not take this step before seeking further legal advice).

In relation to the job that you are trying on a trial basis, you need to raise your concerns about the workload either informally or formally through the grievance process to see whether the problem can be resolved.

Sarah Calderwood assisted with this answer.

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