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EAT: ‘landmark’ victory for working mothers

A community nurse who was dismissed following the implementation of flexible working, where she was unable to work evenings and weekends due to her caring responsibilities which included two disabled children and a further third child, has had her appeal upheld by the EAT.

In Dobson v North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, it was held that “the Tribunal had erred in limiting the pool for comparison to the team in which the Claimant worked”, by  “not taking judicial notice of the fact that women, because of their childcare responsibilities, were less likely to be able to accommodate certain working patterns than men. These conclusions meant that, in the circumstances of this case, the findings on justification and unfair dismissal could not stand and would have to be revisited”.

While it is still unfortunately apparent that there is a “childcare disparity” that employment tribunals “must take into account if relevant”, the decision has been hailed a victory for working women.

Employers should be aware of this decision and ensure that where staff are working parents, particularly working mothers, they are not penalised should they be unable to work flexibly “to meet business needs or demands of a service”. 

Posted on 15 July, 2021 by Ortolan

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