We tend to associate flexible working with women but it should also be available to men on an equal basis.
Otherwise male workers may be entitled to bring a discrimination claim as happened in a recent case before the Employment Tribunal.
It involved a man who was employed by a large accountancy firm. He had worked successfully on a full-time basis but then asked if he could change to flexible hours when his marriage began to break down. He wanted to have more time to spend with his daughter who would no longer be living with him.
However, his manager was unhelpful and said that because of his high level position in the business, it wasn’t possible for him to be allowed to work flexibly. This was in contrast to the way female staff in similar positions had been treated when they had asked for flexible hours. He was told that the likelihood of promotion would be reduced if he worked part-time.
He raised the issue again following his divorce because his wife had left the area. He wanted to have more time to travel see his daughter.
This time he was allowed to reduce his hours but not by as many as he wanted. He was also placed on a longer trial period than women in similar situations. His manager became less supportive and avoided him at social events. He also gave him lower grades in the annual appraisal.
The tribunal found that the man had been discriminated against on the grounds of his sex.
Anyone who feels they have been subjected to discrimination at work on the grounds of race, sex or age may be entitled to claim compensation.
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