Members told by their employer that it “did not want to employ part-time workers”

Unite members, Jess and Billy-Jo, were employed by Ford Road Dental Surgery in Clacton-on-Sea as part-time dental nurses. With childcare costs being so high, they could not afford to work full-time and pay for childcare, so they needed to work part-time in order to earn an income and look after their young children.

Without warning, the owner of the surgery told the members that they were going to be made redundant because he did not want to employ part-time members of staff. He went on to tell them that if the situation changed, provided they remained on “friendly terms” with him, he may offer them a job.

The members didn’t understand what the owner meant by this but in a bid to avoid being made redundant they suggested job-share as a solution. The owner did not accept this and the members were dismissed from their employment.

The members contacted Unite Legal Services for help in pursuing their claims in the Employment Tribunals. Unite Legal Services supported the members to submit claims for unfair dismissal, part-time discrimination and indirect sex discrimination.

After hearing the evidence, employment judge Foxwell, who heard the case, held in favour of the members on all three claims and they were awarded sums for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.

Employment judge Foxwell commented: “The requirement to work full-time has a greater adverse impact on women than men. That is the tribunal’s own experience, especially with younger children. Times are changing so the tribunal considered the statistical evidence from the Families and Labour Market Survey of the ONS which confirmed our own experience. Women with children under the age of 11 are more likely to be part-time.”

The members were delighted with the success of their case, and the justice this brought to all women who have childcare responsibilities and have no choice but to work on a part-time basis. They feel they could not have achieved this outcome without the support of Unite Legal Services.