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Employer’s refusal to allow manager to continue to work from home was correct

Employer’s refusal to allow manager to continue to work from home was correct
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

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Tribunal makes interesting comments about the limitations of technology for remote workers in flexible working claim

In Wilson v Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the claimant sought a change to her terms of employment to enable her to work entirely “remotely”. She had been working from home since the beginning of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and submitted the flexible working request when her employer implemented a “40% office attendance” rule.

The claimant’s manager acknowledged the high performance of the claimant whilst working from home but rejected the request based on a “detrimental impact on performance and quality of output”.

Employers are permitted to reject a flexible working request provided the reason for rejection is based on correct facts and falls into one of the eight reasons prescribed in law. A detrimental impact on performance and output fall into that category.

The rationale for rejection was, according to the employer, that the claimant would miss face-to-face training sessions, departmental away days, and meetings. She would also not be able to effectively coach new team members, and as a direct manager of four, her ability to input into managerial strategy and engage in collaboration with colleagues would also be negatively affected.

The claimant denied that face-to-face working was better than remote alternatives and claimed that the FCA had excellent technology and that many of the suggested disadvantages were not real.

The claimant’s appeal was rejected and she brought claims to tribunal alleging a breach of the flexible working process because the outcome relied on incorrect facts.

Employment Judge Judith Richter ruled against the claimant, noting that the case concerned a “key issue in the modern workplace and which will no doubt be the subject of continued litigation”.

The claimant’s manager, the Judge said, “did seek to genuinely consider the individual merits of the application as opposed to simply seeking to enforce the respondent’s attendance policy”.

The Judge agreed with the manager’s conclusion that the more senior elements of the claimant’s role, especially around people management, could not be as effectively performed remotely.

Richter said “It is the experience of many who work using technology that it is not well suited to the fast-paced interplay of exchanges which occur in, for example, planning meetings or training events when rapid discussion can occur on topics.”

She added that it would not be incorrect for her manager to identify these potential risks to her performance, and that expectations around face-to-face training and coaching, among other activities, were “elements of the work of the claimant which the respondent legitimately expected her to complete”.

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Have employers won any cases brought by an employee because a flexible working request has been refused?

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