I am contractually required to work nine hours per day but, due to health reasons (osteoarthritis), I’ve asked my employer to reduce my hours to seven per day. I have a letter from my GP which states that ‘a reduction would be beneficial to my health’ etc. I’ve had two operations (lower back & left hip) in the past few years. I fear that my employer won’t budge, citing needs of the business etc. Do you think that I would succeed in claiming ‘constructive dismissal’ if they decline my request and I resign? And if they offer me a different (not so interesting) position with less pay, would it exonerate them from any potential claim?
If your illness amounts to a disability, which is a mental or physical impairment that affects your day to day abilities and lasts for a substantial period of time, your employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to continue working. If it is not possible to adjust your hours or make physical adjustments should these be needed, your employer will then need to consider any alternative roles that you may be able to perform. At this stage it does not sound like this is necessary if your doctor’s advice is a small reduction in hours. It may be necessary to obtain a report from your doctor confirming that s/he believes your condition amounts to a disability and reiterating the adjustments that are required.
I would advise seeking professional advice before resigning and if your request is unreasonably refused the next step is to raise a formal grievance with your employer and in line with their grievance procedure.
In order to be able to claim constructive dismissal you need to have been continuously employed for two years. Any unreasonable refusal by your employer to make reasonable adjustments could amount to disability discrimination which is a separate claim to constructive dismissal.