How Christianne Silverwood, Employment lawyer, negotiated a Settlement Agreement for a woman whose employer discriminated against her while she was on maternity leave by changing her contractual working hours.
Ms Davies worked for a large company for 8 years. After the birth of her first child, she suffered with postpartum psychosis. On her return to work, her manager allowed her to work on a flexible basis so that her full-time hours were condensed into a period of 4 days (Monday – Thursday). This arrangement was in place for 2 years before her second period of maternity leave and, therefore, reflected her contractual hours.
Shortly before returning to work after her second maternity leave, her manager requested that she make another flexible working application, so she could return to work on the same condensed hours. Ms Davies complied with this request but was refused permission to continue to work condensed hours. Her employer insisted that she work over a regular 5-day period.
We helped Ms Davies appeal against her employer’s flexible working decision and assisted her in raising a formal grievance. We set out that she was entitled to return to work on the same terms, which meant that she was entitled to return to working on the condensed hours. We claimed that the employer was acting unlawfully in that it was discriminating against her, on grounds of her sex.
After submitting her grievance, the stress caused by the employer’s refusal to let her work condensed hours caused Ms Davies to become mentally ill and triggered the stress, anxiety and depression that she had suffered with historically and after the birth of her first child. A doctor signed her off for a period of 4 months.
We wrote to the employer, advising that Ms Davies had a disability and they had discriminated against her by failing to make any reasonable adjustments and, specifically, by requiring her to work full time regular hours.
Ms Davies made it clear that she did not want to return to work for her employer as trust and confidence had broken down.
We proposed terms for a Settlement Agreement, which were rejected.
We supported Ms Davies so that she could remain in employment on full sick pay and so she could attend her grievance hearing.
We insisted that her employer made reasonable adjustments to the grievance process and requested that they set out their questions in writing, in advance of the hearing and asked that her mother be allowed to attend to support her.
To protect Ms Davies’ entitlement to bring an Employment Tribunal claim against her employer, we submitted her details to comply with Acas Early Conciliation.
Ms Davies’ employer accepted that she had been working the condensed hours for some time prior to her second period of maternity leave but did not accept there had been any discrimination. We drafted an appeal on Ms Davies’ behalf. This resulted in her employer making a financial settlement offer, based on our initial proposals. Ms Davies’ Settlement Agreement was finalised 2 weeks later.
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