20 November 2001 -
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has announced that a vehicle technician whose employer refused to let him work part-time so he could help look
after his son has won his sex discrimination case against a former employer.
Neil Walkingshaw had worked full-time for the John Martin Group in East Lothian for over
eight years when his son was born. Mrs Walkingshaw was also a full-time worker. During her
maternity leave the couple decided that Mr Walkingshaw should be the one to go part-time at
the end of her maternity leave.
But when Mr Walkingshaw discussed this with his managers he was told that the
proposal was 'too messy'. He considered that they had dismissed his idea without really considering it -
despite allowing four women workers in the same company to reduce their hours after
having children. He handed in his resignation shortly afterwards.
Julie Mellor, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), said:
"Mr Walkingshaw's employers lost a skilled employee who had been with them for several years,
simply because they didn't look at his request to work part-time properly. A genuine discussion
about the practicalities of dealing with the changes he wanted might have helped them find a
solution that suited them and him.
"I very much hope that the recommendations of the Work and Parents Taskforce, announced today,
which include a code of practice to help employers deal with this kind of request, will mean
that cases like this are less likely to end up before a tribunal in future. All working parents
deserve a chance to balance their work with their family life, and the best employers have
already recognised that this can benefit their business as well."
Mr Walkingshaw said:
"My wife and I had decided that the best way for us to manage looking after our son was for her
to carry on working-full-time and for me to go part-time, so I had hoped that my employer would
at least consider my suggestion.
"I'm delighted with the tribunal's decision as I really didn't think it was fair that I was
treated so differently from the women in my company who had asked for part-time work. I think
that if more parents could change their hours it would make for a better life for a lot of
Finding that Mr Walkingshaw had been discriminated against because of his sex, the tribunal
awarded him £3,700 compensation. It concluded that Mr Walkingshaw's employers 'gave no
meaningful consideration' to his request and that they would probably have agreed to a
similar request from a woman.