Tribunals will be arbitrators under Parents Taskforce rules

first_imgTribunals will be arbitrators under Parents Taskforce rulesOn 1 Dec 2001 in Personnel Today The new duty to consider seriously requests for flexible working willintroduce a business harm test by the back door, lawyers are warning. The Work and Parents Taskforce which reported last month stressed the”light-touch” nature of the new duty to consider. It promised itwould not force employers to justify a refusal by refernce to objectivestandards at tribunal. It said tribunals “will not have the power to question the employer’sactual reasons for declining a request”. But in reality, the new law willwork in tandem with the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to allow tribunals to dojust that. “I suspect it will become common practice to join a claim under the newlaw to a SDA claim, because the requirement for objective justification in theSDA is much stronger,” said Rhodri McDonald, a lawyer at the EqualOpportunities Commission. “There are now a sufficient number of cases thatshow a requirement to work full time can fall foul of the SDA where a woman canshow it subjects her to a detriment.” In a case last month a former police constable won her appeal against Avonand Somerset Police on the grounds that its refusal to allow her to workregular shifts for childcare reasons breached the SDA. Many men would also be able to bring claims under a different part of theSDA. A decision last month against car repair firm John Martin Group adds to agrowing body of case law showing that men can claim direct discrimination whererequests for part-time working are refused if they can demonstrate a womancolleague would have been treated more favourably. “The Taskforce’s assertion that employers can justify any refusal in ‘acouple of paragraphs’ is misleading,” said Sue Nickson, head of employmentat Hammond Suddards Edge. “As a minimum, employers are going to have toshow objective justification in every case because that is already thelaw.” Tribunals will have the power to send cases back to the employer forreconsideration and also award compensation. The Government estimates the new law will result in half a million extrarequests for flexible working each year. It asserts that 80 per cent ofrequests will be settled internally and only 1 per cent will end up attribunal. It will encourage employees to use internal appeals procedures andalternative dispute resolution such as mediation, but proposes no restrictionon employees taking their cases to tribunal once internal procedures areexhausted. The new procedure– An employer receiving a written requestfor flexible arrangements must set a meeting within four weeks – The employer will have to explain the business reasons forany refusal in writing within two weeks of the meeting– The employee will have two weeks to appeal a refusalinternally– The employer must provide a final decision in writing withintwo weeks of the appeal meeting– Employees who are still not satisfied may appeal externallyvia mediation, arbitration or tribunalWhat they saidClare ChapmanGroup HR director, Tesco”The way it will be implementedwill remove a lot of the flexibility that employers seek to embrace throughexisting HR policies and it will produce additional challenges”Bob WatsonHR director, Bupa”Requiring employers to giverequests for flexible work serious consideration is open to all sorts ofinterpretation. It seems it has been left to tribunals to do it”Ralph TribeHR director, Getty Images”I don’t think it’s red tapebecause if someone raised a legitimate enquiry you’d respond formally anyway”Mike EmmottEmployee relations adviser, CIPD”The institute welcomes theemphasis on sorting out concerns about flexible working through discussion”Mike TaylorGroup HR director, Lorne Stewart”To set up this bureaucraticaudit trail is unnecessary” Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img

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