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Please can I have some advice - is this discrimination?

(14 Posts)
redrosepetals Mon 24-Oct-11 16:34:42

This is my first post on MN, I could really do with some advice!

I'm current on maternity leave and have just applied for flexible working, this has been refused by higher management at work. When speaking to my department manager earlier about arranging a meeting to discuss this refusal (he has be incredibly supportive as has my line manager when I have spoken to them about flexible working before), he mentioned a few things which had apparently been discussed in the meeting about but were not included in the letter as to why my request was refused.

The reason I wonder if I'm being a bit discriminated against is they have concerns about potentially finding somebody to fill my position in a job share in a couple of years if my husband (who is in the army) were posted to a different location. I have worked at my current post for 2 years, prior to that I worked at the same place in a different job for two years. Both times when I have moved jobs they have known my husband is emplyed by the army and this has never seemed to be a problem when employing me, more to the point we have brought a house now so I may well not even follow my husband if he was employed elsewhere.

Is this discrimination as it sounds as though they are using my husbands job against my application? If so does anyone have any advice about what I should do about it?

I hope this makes some sense! Any help will be very gratefully received!

Bossybritches22 Mon 24-Oct-11 16:39:24

Hmmmn sounds to me like something that every boss might chew over with his managers but not neccessarily allow it to affect his decision. If it's not in the letter then TBH it's only hearsay.

What was the official reason for their reusal. As far as I'm aware they have a legal obligation to consider any reasonable request, but if it is unworkable & they can say why then they are not being discriminatory.

Bossybritches22 Mon 24-Oct-11 16:41:16

Also meant to say they should NOT be discussing your husband in relation to your employability, it obviously comes up in interview as part of general discussion but it shouldn't impact on the outcome of the interview.....but we all know it does unfortunately with some employers.

KatieMortician Mon 24-Oct-11 17:04:12

You might possibly be protected by the Equality Act 2010 but I need to check the Act and think about it. I'll be back.

redrosepetals Mon 24-Oct-11 17:05:19

Thanks, that makes good sense...tbh I needed some perspective as am very disappointed atm.

The reason for refusal is that a job share wouldn't be acceptable to the nature and format of instruction that I do. I'm suprised they have said that really as both my line manager and department manager thought it would be workable and as they run things day to day I'd have thought their opinions would have been the most important. The other thing my department manager said was discussed was the financial implications which would make far more sense but that weren't mentioned in the letter.

Grevling Mon 24-Oct-11 19:55:34

It's a hard one but I'll side with not discriminatory. If starting a job share the ease of replacing a person who only wants part time as opposed to full time should they leave would be something I would consider. Also if I expected that person to leave I might not promote them.

Now it is discriminatory to not promote a woman because she might run off and have babies or some such so I'll just promote men instead. It's not discriminatory to not promote Jane as she's always talked about emigrating so I'll give it to dan instead as he seems like he's here for the long run.

KatieMortician Mon 24-Oct-11 20:07:12

Ok have checked and thought on. Marriage and civil partnerships are protected characteristics so to treat you differently because you are married is discrimination. In your case it's because they are using your husband's job to reject your flexible working request.

However, none of that information has actually been given to you. What your manager says and what actually happened might be quite different and without evidence you have no case.

If you feel the reasons given in the rejection are not valid then you should appeal as normal. Perhaps request a trial period?

I would also be wondering what motivation my manager had in sharing that "information" with me...

Bossybritches22 Mon 24-Oct-11 20:10:27

Mmmmmn KatieM I had the same thought....stirring maybe or angling to make sure he keeps OP as she's a cracking good worker?!

KatieMortician Mon 24-Oct-11 20:13:55

If it's not to genuinely help the OP (which championing her request and promising to make it work would have done) then I suspect she may be a pawn in some sort of internal politics.

KatieMortician Mon 24-Oct-11 20:14:49

...but I am a cynical old bag grin

Bossybritches22 Tue 25-Oct-11 00:02:09

Makes two of us then!! grin

LoveBeingAWitch Tue 25-Oct-11 07:25:54

My immediate thought was the manager is very naive, Thinking he's helping you to understand but infact making it worse! The reality is the only way to raise this is to use what the manager has told you and quote him. This may or may not get you what you want. Also because someone thought 'what about if she leaves?' doesn't mean that's the reason it's been declined.

redrosepetals Tue 25-Oct-11 16:24:10

Thanks everyone!

I think you are right in that it will make no difference to my job share application anyway, so I am going to forget it and hope that I can persuade management in the review meeting that a job share will be viable.

As for my manager telling me, I really hope there is no politics involved....I think he may not have really thought about it tbh!

KatieMortician Tue 25-Oct-11 18:11:54

So are you requesting they find a job share instead of reducing down or flexing your hours?

It is much harder to find a job share partner because they have to work well with an individual but recruiting somebody for 15-22 hours is much easier IME. Would they be more open to a reduction in your hours than a job share?

It may be that the job share aspect is the sticking point and worrying about someone leaving and having to accommodate an existing job sharer is a valid concern from a practical and financial position.

There are many, many advantages to having two employees working one FTE contract. With the right planning there need never be gaps where there's no cover for that job because of holidays and if one or other leaves there is still someone knowledgable and capable in the business still working.

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