Landmark ruling in flexible working

25 June 2021

NHS Community Nurse Gemma Dodson wins her appeal in weekend working case.

In 2016, a new rostering policy was introduced to Dodson’s NHS trust, which required her to work occasional weekends.  Dodson has three children, two of whom are disabled; therefore, she rejected the proposed changes to her working pattern due to her childcare responsibilities.  However, in April 2017, she was informed that she would be issued a notice of dismissal, to re-engage on the new terms.  Dodson rejected these new terms and appealed her termination which was rejected.    

At employment tribunal (ET), the judgement ruled that the dismissal was fair, however permission was granted to appeal the decision at the employment appeals tribunal (EAT).  The EAT confirmed that the tribunal had incorrectly limited the pool of comparators to the claimant’s team when the correct comparators were all community nurses across the trust.    Furthermore, the EAT held that the ET should have taken into consideration that women were less likely to accommodate certain working patterns than men, due to their childcare responsibilities. 

Dodson was supported by the charity Working Families who launched a flexible working campaign in 2020 to make flexible working the rule and not the exception. 

The case must now return to the ET where they will reconsider Dodson’s claims of indirect discrimination and unfair dismissal.  


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