Refusal to take childcare issues into account around shifts: ask the expert

I worked part time with a care company for a short time from 28 October up Feb 2014. Within this time I made a request for a change in my availability which I was informed would take up to 28 days. I made the request as I was employed as part time and had two children and was working almost every day of the week and all day with short breaks in between. My employer then called me into the office to discuss my change and informed me it could not be accepted and to call back to office the next week with a new availability sheet. I still put down I would work 5 days a week but between 12.00 and 1.00 I couldn’t as I had to pick my child up from school. Within that time my employer still put calls on my rota for the time I informed I could not do,every day, which was causing me a lot of problems and stress. I went back to the office the following week and handed my new availability sheet to her, she barely looked at it, and said these will not be accepted so I will have to let you go. From there I worked my 1 weeks’ notice then left. I truly feel that she was being unfair to me. Would this be unfair dismissal? At the time I had just finished my probation period of 12 weeks, the week before so could this affect my chances?

As you had only just completed your 12 week probationary period you did not have the required 2 years’ service to bring a ‘normal’ unfair dismissal claim at the Employment Tribunal. There are very limited exceptions to this rule (for example where a dismissal is because of pregnancy or maternity leave).  Neither did you have the statutory right to make a flexible working request which requires 26 weeks’ service.

However, you may have a case for sex discrimination due to your ex employers shift pattern putting women (who are more likely to have childcare responsibilities) at a disadvantage and/or in respect of your employer’s unreasonable refusal to accommodate your suggested working hours.  In order to advise further on this I would require sight of the relevant contract of employment.

I note that your last day of work was 5 February 2014 and I am assuming your request to change your hours was made and rejected prior to this date.  Please note that there is a strict three-month time limit for pursuing claims in the Employment Tribunal for sex discrimination which runs from the date of the discriminatory act or acts complained about.

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