8 April 2002 -
Adele Bruce and Susan Smith, both part-time computer analysts made redundant after
refusing to work full-time, have settled a sex discrimination case against their
former employer for a confidential sum. The case was supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).
The two women were both experienced analyst programmers who had worked in the
IT department of Scott & Co Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers in Edinburgh. Adele Bruce
had worked there for 7 years and Susan Smith for eight. They had both had started as full-timers
but moved to part-time work for childcare reasons after they had children.
The women were told they could not work part-time time any longer because of the department's
increasing workload and were made redundant after informing Scott & Co that they were
not able to work full-time.
Jenny Watson, Deputy Chair of the EOC, said:
"Employers must realise it simply doesn't make sense to get rid of experienced part-time
workers. The new duty to consider requests for flexibility is likely to mean that the
popularity of flexible working increases at an even greater rate in future, among men as
well as women. Good employers are preparing for this now.
"Sixty per cent of working women who have dependent children choose to work part-time to
enable them to balance work and home. This doesn't make their experience or their contribution
to the workplace any less valuable. Businesses that refuse to accommodate part-time or flexible
working arrangements are depriving themselves of a huge and growing pool of talent. This
should be of particular concern in the IT industry where only 22% of the workforce are
women and where a shortage of as many as 400,000 IT professionals has been predicted."
The two women claimed that they had suggested sharing one full-time post leaving the other post
for another full-time worker - a suggestion that was rejected by their employer.
Adele Bruce was then made redundant. Initially, Susan Smith had considered changing her
childcare arrangements to allow her to work full-time but eventually concluded she was
unable to do so. She was also made redundant. Susan Smith
also claimed that the full-time salary offered to her was less than that of a male analyst
programmer. Immediately after making the women wredundant, Scott & Co advertised for
additional members of the IT department. Subsequently they employed at least two male analyst
Ms Bruce said:
"It is a great injustice that I lost my job purely on the grounds that I could not
accommodate full-time working due to childcare restrictions. It is also unfortunate that
Scott & Co chose to lost two loyal, experienced members of staff who were keen to continue
working for them."
Ms Smith said:
"I felt it was very unfair for experienced members of staff to be made redundant at a time
when the department actually needed more staff, not fewer. Part-time workers shouldn't be
treated any less favourably than full-timers."
The Work and Parents Taskforce recommended to the Government in November 2001 that employers
should have a duty to consider properly parents' requests to change their working hours. This
proposal has been incorporated in the Employment Bill.