All businesses from time to time will go through a restructure. This can be both a stressful and uncertain time for employers and employees alike.

Most businesses will seek to ensure that this process is handled with as much care and sympathy as possible for any affected staff.

Why?

On the legal spectrum, in cases of redundancy, to avoid unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and part-time worker detriment (to name a few).

All three of which somehow managed to find their way into Fidessa Plc v Lancaster.

The Claimant agreed to work 9-5, four days a week having returned from maternity leave. Her employer had agreed that there may be flexibility on this point, and the Claimant would also be allowed to leave at 5pm for child care reasons. She could always log on later and work remotely if deemed necessary.

The business eventually went through a restructure, and the Claimant was made redundant. She was unable to apply for any other new role as they all required the applicant to be able to work past 5pm. She therefore brought claims for unfair dismissal, indirect discrimination and part-time worker detriment.

Upon finding that the Claimant had suffered less favourable treatment on the grounds of her part-time work status, the EAT upheld all three claims.

It was found that:

1) Fidessa had reneged on its agreement that she could leave after 5pm

2) The requirement to work after 5pm was more likely to affect women due to childcare responsibilities

3) The situation could not be justified as there has been no consideration as to alternative ways of working

So, are you thinking of restructuring your business? Get some legal advice in order to avoid any employment related pitfalls you may find yourself trapped in.