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Redundancy tainted by sex discrimination is unfair


The Claimant was employed as an engineer in the Connectivity Operations team. While on maternity leave she submitted a flexible working request and returned in 2013 on a part time basis working 4 days per week, 9am to 5pm. It was agreed that there may be some flexibility around those times but the Claimant needed to leave at 5pm due to childcare.

 An issue arose in relation to the working arrangements when it became necessary for the Claimant to carry out a “deletion” task after 5pm to improve the functionality of the computers. The Claimant’s line manager agreed that the Claimant could do the preparation for this task before 5pm and complete the task remotely from home, allowing her to leave at 5pm. However, when the Claimant’s line manager was not in the office, the Connectivity Manager would not allow the same flexibility.

In 2014, the Connectivity Manager proposed a reorganisation of the Connectivity Department, reducing the need for engineers. The emphasis of the new engineer role was on the “deletion” task which would be conducted from the office after 5pm. The Claimant therefore did not apply for the engineer role and expressed concerns about the requirement to work from the office after 5pm. As there was no suitable alternative vacancy, the Claimant was dismissed by reason of redundancy.

The Claimant brought claims for unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination along with other claims which are not discussed as part of this update.


The Employment Tribunal held that although the redundancy process was not a sham, the requirement that applied to the new engineer role of staying in the office after 5pm to perform “deletions” was a policy, criterion or practice (“PCP”) which put women at a particular disadvantage and was not objectively justified.

 The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision that the dismissal was unfair on the basis that the PCP applied was indirectly discriminatory.


This case demonstrates that a requirement to perform work at the workplace after normal working hours may amount to indirect sex discrimination on the basis that women are more likely to be disadvantaged as, generally, they assume childcare responsibilities. If an organisation does not consider any existing flexible arrangements already in place when restructuring and goes on to remove these from the new structure, as in this case, it may affect the fairness of any redundancy dismissal and lead to costly claims.

If you would like to speak to us about discrimination issues, please feel free to email us or contact us on 0191 282 2880 for a no obligation chat.

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