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SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4327
Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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For around 20 years I have woprked as a PA / Medical

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for around 20 years I have woprked as a PA / Medical Secretary 7 am to 3 pm in the NHS. Recently due to service needs the Trust have mandated that the office is covered 8 am to 5 pm. I have been instructed I will need to do 9 am to 5 pm for at least one day and then 8 am to 4 pm the remainder of the week. This prompted me to submit a flexible working request to retain my current working pattern. However, this was rejected on the grounds of service needs and impact on quality of care.
JA: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I am 63 years of age and have survived Hurtle cell carcinoma for 20 years, I have recently had 2 procedures for basal cell carcinoma on my face which required skin grafts. I currently travel to work with my partner car sharing and he also has 7 am to 3 pm working pattern. I shall be forced to walk for around 30 minutes up a steep hill to the nearest train station followed by around 10 minutes to then get to the office. We are a team of 12 secretaries. Two other secretaries who have children have been exempted and allowed to work 6 am to 2 pm, one parent is 50 years old and the child is 12. These secretaries do not have cover the office for the longer working day. The new travel arrangements would not only cost me upwards of £100 a month so effectively a pay cut but would also put me at risk during the current pandemic. Is this acceptable practice or discrimination. The flexible working request was reviewed by my immediate Line Manager and her Manager. I have submitted an appeal which will be reviewed by the next level of management. I have discussed the whole situation with HR who have so informed me that my Manager breached the timeline of the policy by leaving it over 10 weeks to notify me of the outcome rather than the recommended 14 days. I have been told the changes will be effective on 2 November i.e. 14 days after the rejection.
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I do not belong to a union, for the simple reason that it is Unison and my Manager is the representative!!!! I do not understand how this is allowable and surely a conflict of interest but that is the situation. I am full time employed by an NHS trust in Birmingham.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No I think you have all the information.

Good evening. Thank you for contacting Justanswer. I am a solicitor in England and Wales and happy to guide you. If your contract of employment provides for the right of the NHS trust to vary the terms of your contract then they would be able to vary the contract to suit the business needs. However, you are not refusing to work the new times out of choice. If your employer has been aware of your condition and is appraised of the implication to your health of the walking and use of public transport then they should consider your flexible working request as it is necessary for your health to maintain the current hours. The impact on your wage too is something they ought to consider however, it is not likely that they would accept to increase your wage since other people using public transport would not be getting the same treatment and the cost of travel to work did not influence the rate of your pay. You should get a letter from your GP on the implications to your health if you are to walk on the steep terrain for so many days a week and supply this to the Appeal chair. Unless your contract states the notice period for changes to contract terms to take effect the requirement is for employees to be given reasonable notice and in the current pandemic climate and working in NHS 14 days would regrettably be reasonable. If I can clarify anything further please do not hesitate to send me your follow up question, I will be more than happy to assist. All the best.

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Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Good morning. Thank you for your advice and guidance. The information you provided I was more or less aware of although it helpful to have this confirmed. However, the one issue you did not address for me was the matter of 2 colleagues in the department having their flexible working requests approved on the basis of childcare issues. They are permitted to have a work pattern of 6 am to 2 pm. If I am not permitted to keep my hours due to service needs why does this not apply to them? I perceive this as discrimination. I am also expected to cover their absence which I find unacceptable and an unreasonable managerial request. I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.