Monday, 12 March 2007

Hours policy warning

Shropshire employers must beware when it comes to refusing flexible and part-time working.

John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said changing legislation meant companies should ensure they were complying with the very latest regulations.

“The latest developments follow a case where an employee took her employers to a tribunal as they refused to let her work part-time after the birth of her child.

“She sued her employers under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, as she said the requirement to work full time discriminated against women as, in the majority of cases, they were primarily responsible for child care.

“And she said at times, many women needed a part-time option, to make room for their family responsibilities, so the policy of only employing full-time workers was unfair.”

John said the case had been settled out of court, with compensation being offered, and the company involved was now reviewing its policies on part-time and flexible working.

“In a world where many people are juggling their job and caring for their families, whether that’s children or dependant relatives, companies need to ensure their policies are seen as fair.

“Currently working parents have the right to ask for flexible working, and from April this year, the right will be extended to people caring for relatives too.

“This means businesses will have to make provision for employees to work more unusual hours, or maybe give them the opportunity to work from home more often.
“Of course this could cause difficulties in terms of continuity in the workplace, but if employers begin to review their policies well before the rules change, it gives them the chance to seek professional help to draw up a new strategy that will benefit everyone.”