Enforced Change Proves Costly
18 October 2017
Gregory v Royal Mail Group Limited 2017
Employees who have in excess of 26 weeks’ continuous employment have the statutory right to request flexible working. These requests can be refused by employers, but the employer must give the request due consideration and can only reject a request of this nature for one of eight prescribed grounds.
This case concerns an employee who was divorced during his employment. As a result of this, the working pattern of six days per week no longer suited his personal circumstances. He requested that his hours of work be amended to a Monday-Friday working arrangement to enable him to see his daughter at weekends. This request was duly accepted and his contract changed accordingly.
Subsequently, the employee found that he had been rostered to work at weekends contrary to his flexible working agreement. He complained that this amounted to a unilateral variation of his contract. When the employer failed to uphold his complaint, he resigned and brought a claim for constructive dismissal.
The tribunal held that the employer acted in ‘fundamental breach of contract entitling the claimant to resign’. As such, it found in the employee’s favour and made an award of £22,000. Having agreed to the flexible working request, the contract of employment had been varied and it was therefore unlawful for the employer to attempt to change this without agreement.
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