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Is this discrimination against a part time employee?

(43 Posts)
Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 10:56:41

My boss has decided to hold team meetings once a month on a day I do not usually work. His reason for holding them on that day is that he thinks people will be more relaxed on that day than on another. I don't know what this is based on. I am expected to go to the team meetings which will last between half a day and a day (and will get one of my regular 'working' days as a day off that week). I will not get any extra money for attending the meetings or any compensation for the extra childcare I will have to arrange. My daughter's nursery will not allow me to swap days so every team meeting i attend will effectively cost me £50. The team meetings will consist of training, information sharing and team bonding. There are no other part time workers.

I would like to go to team meetings but don't want to be out of pocket. I have paid £200 so far doing this. My boss previously said (in front of witnesses) that he would move all team meetings to a day I do work but has since changed his mind.

My questions are:

Is my boss allowed to choose to hold team meetings on a day I don't work?

Is my boss allowed to force me to attend team meetings without compensation?

What can I do about this?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 11:32:38


whoingodsnameami Mon 29-Jun-09 11:35:45

Does your contract state you work specific days, or part time hours over any days?

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 11:37:04

My contract is for full time work because i signed it years ago, before I had a dc. Since then, we have agreed to vary my contract so I work 3 set days a week.

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 11:37:45

I did agree I would attend team meetings outside the 3 set days but this was on the basis that they would only occasionally fall outside of my normal working days.

whoingodsnameami Mon 29-Jun-09 11:39:31

Unless your contract states the 3 days you work then I dont think there is much you can do, however if these meetings are a permanent fixture then you could see about having your contract changed to set working days, then you will have an

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 11:45:20

Well, my contract was varied to those 3 set days because work hadn't got around to sending me a new contract yet. They are not arguing the fact that I have 3 days, they are asking me to be flexible and agree to swap days once a month or to change my days so that the team meeting will fall on my working day, if that makes sense.

whoingodsnameami Mon 29-Jun-09 11:46:27

Also contracts should be updated yearly and new ones signed, even if there is no

whoingodsnameami Mon 29-Jun-09 11:50:26

It does'nt matter that they are not arguing the fact you only work 3 days, the point is, your contract states full time hours, therefore, them asking you to be flexable is not discimination at

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 29-Jun-09 11:51:50

What does your contract say (if anything) about additional childcare costs? In the civil service (which admittedly has better equal opportunities than many other employers) if you incur additional childcare costs through attending (say) a conference or training event outside your normal hours, you can reclaim those extra costs. Do you have a similar policy?

Otherwise, it seems to me it's a bit of a grey area. As a matter of good practice, it would be better if your boss held team meetings on a day when everyone was there but, ultimately, it's his decision and I guess he needs to take account of the needs of the business too.

Have you got a union rep nearby? Ask for their opinion.

mumof2222222222222222boys Mon 29-Jun-09 11:59:33

I think it is pretty unreasonable and if you are seriously out of pocket and they won't listen...and you felt you had to leave...potentially a claim for unfair constructive dismissal.

Presumably you have your 3 days a week in writing as a variation to your contract?

Let's hope Flowery comes along soon!

ilovemydogandmrobama Mon 29-Jun-09 12:14:19

Tricky. There isn't really such a catagory as part time discrimination, although most part time workers are female, so it would have to be shown that you are being treated less favorably than your colleagues.

For instance, he isn't suggesting moving the team brief to Saturday when full time employees aren't at work?

He sounds like a fairly reasonable guy, so would try and work through it by explaining to him why it's difficult for you. Explain to him that you have to pay child care, and that it isn't flexible. There are some (male) bosses who just don't understand why child care is difficult to arrange at short notice. He may think that you can just swap days.

Be sure and say that you like being at the team briefs, but need to explain to him that it's costing you!

mrsjammi Mon 29-Jun-09 12:18:30

Message withdrawn

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 12:35:14

Thanks for all the replies. I have my set days in writing as a variation to the contract. I am willing to be flexible but not if it makes me out of pocket; I am already being paid below the market rate.

I thought there was a part time workers directive that says you are not allowed to discriminate - does anyone know about that?

I am going to try to arrange a meeting with my boss to discuss the problems, see if it gets me anywhere.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 29-Jun-09 12:45:06

Can you just change your days so that it will always fall on your regular days (so that you can change your days at nursery)?

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 12:49:08

Laurie - potentially, yes I can, if the nursery has space. Although my dd goes to a music group on the day team meetings are held and there are no groups on the new day I would have free. I am being asked to change one day from a monday to a thursday so I would also miss out on bank holiday mondays off work for no additional compensation.

mrsjammi Mon 29-Jun-09 13:11:06

Message withdrawn

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 13:20:41

thanks, mrs jammi. i am planning to say I will not go to the meeting coming up because I don't see why I should have to pay. But in the long term, I will be missing out on training and team 'bonding' (silly expression) by not going, which is why this is such a problem. My job requires that I have a certain amount of training each year, so i will now also have to try to find it elsewhere.

theyoungvisiter Mon 29-Jun-09 13:20:42

"I am being asked to change one day from a monday to a thursday so I would also miss out on bank holiday mondays off work for no additional compensation."

I am not an expert on employment law, but the usual practice with part time work regarding bank holidays is to allocate them pro-rata - so if you work Mondays you generally lose either a day or two's holiday or a day or two's pay to compensate.

Whereas if you don't work Mondays you generally get a couple of day's extra holiday. As many nurseries make you pay for bank holidays anyway, it can be advantageous not to work Mondays.

If your boss wants you to change your days, request that he implement this policy and at least you will end up with a couple of days extra leave.

amidaiwish Mon 29-Jun-09 13:24:59

Bessie, i had this in my last job and in the end my boss agreed i could charge the childcare cost incurred as expenses. is this an option?
In the end they paid for the 4th day permanently as it was working out cheaper, which meant i could be more flexible over the week which was great for everyone involved. Maybe it is worth exploring that as an option rather than fighting it?

KirstyJC Mon 29-Jun-09 13:26:35

I would ask him to explain why he feels the meeting needs to be on that day specifically. What reason does he give for making it Thursdays? How are people more relaxed on a Thursday?? I could understand if it was a Friday afternoon, but why Thursday?

If you are the only employee who is not full time, it is a bit ridiculous for him to make the meetings on one of the 2 days a weeks you're not there - he has 3 other days when you are there and it's not as if he needs to work around other part-timers as well.

TBH it sounds a bit odd - like he has deliberately chosen a day he knows you will struggle with......I might be reading too much into this of course - he might just be thoughtless!

Has he made it a condition of your employment that you attend these meetings? Even if he hasn't, it would sound like you would be disadvantaged in not attending. If he has agreed part time hours in writing upon your return then I would imagine that legally, he can't then change your conditions to make you worse off, and it seems you are worse off either way - you miss out if you don't go, or you pay more if you do.

But I agree you need an expert. Give a trade union a call or try the CAB - this link might be useful. Good luck!

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 13:34:31

Kirsty - thanks v much for the link, i will have a look at it now. it is a condition of my employment that i attend team meetings, even if they do not fall on my usual days. but when i agreed to this it was on the basis that the day of the team meetings would vary, not that they would all be on a day when i am not working. although it is a pain and really rude of my boss i don't mind agreeing to it (childcare permitting) if i am compensated but i don't think it is fair to continue to make me pay.

you may be right that the boss is trying to make things difficult for me. i don't know why he would bother though, he hardly knows me and i have limited dealings with him. something to think about though, i guess.

weaselbudge Mon 29-Jun-09 13:35:30

Hello Bessie
You are right about the part time workers directive. You ARE protected against less favourable treatment under the part time workers regulations - see attached link

And it sounds to me that what you describe is less favourable treatment (i.e. missing training vs paying childcare). My advice would be to informally tell your boss all of your concerns and hopefully he/she will switch the day of the meeting. If he/she doesn't then you will have to follow this up using your company's grievance procedure. At the end of the day you appear to have a potential employment tribunal claim so they will need to listen to you eventually.

Bessie123 Mon 29-Jun-09 13:58:25

Great, thankyou, Weasel. I will have a look now. The only problem is that work kept a right to review the part time working arrangement, I hope that doesn't mean they can just change it whenever they like.

Squiffy Mon 29-Jun-09 14:18:43

Am sure flowery will be along soon, but my view is that this would be viewed as less favourable treatment and as indirect sex discrimination by a tribunal if there were other things cropping up that might suggest the chap has a problem acceptign that you simply only work on your set days. In isolation I think it would not be enough to push through such a claim (not that I am recommending you go down such a route at all).

The last legal update we had (as managers) from a magic circle firm was that we had to be very careful about scheduling meetings early in morning/late in afternoon etc in order to avoid unintentional sex discrim and we were also warned to treat flexi workers' set days off as sacred, for same reason.

BUT in practice people are so bloody obstinate in these things. I even had to pull up an HR manager about this recently when he tried to force me into meetings on my day off (even had to complain to the MD) - some people just don't 'get it' in terms of childcare etc.

In terms of what to do about it, I would recommend that you simply tell your boss that you cannot do these days and that he needs to switch them, given that your days are fixed with the nursery, and he is able to be flexible. And I would add that you are not trying to be awkward in any way but are happy to seek out a 3rd party opinion from HR if he really doesn't want to switch the dates, given that he is forcing you to breach your contract if you don't attend. I would try however to be fairly reasonable about it and not turn it into a you/him debate, simply try and put it in terms of 'mmm, this is tricky, shall we get HR in to advise how we fix it?'. IYSWIM.

FWIW I would also watch him like a hawk. I get so mad that flexi workers get this kind of treatment and think you should not back down in any way - it is not for you to carry some kind of burden of guilt for beign awkward, it is their responsibility to fit meetings in when people are available. You wouldn't schedule your staff fro a meeting on a Saturday, and this is no different.

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