What happens when an employee wants to change their hours due to study commitments? What happens if your employer cannot make reasonable adjustments to grant the request?
The recent decision of Hoult v Belgravia Health and Leisure is a timely reminder to all employers that requests to reduce hours by employees don’t have to be adopted in their entirety, particularly where it will unreasonably affect business operations.
In this case the employee, who worked 33 hours sought to reduce her hours to 29 hours to accommodate her study. However this meant that programs she coordinated would not be able to be run and her role as a program coordinator made up the bulk of her current 33 hours.
The employee alleged that she had to resign and was therefore unfairly dismissed because the employer would not accommodate her request.
The Fair Work Commission rejected this argument because the request to reduce hours was at the employee’s initiation and when the negotiations had not gone her way, she elected to resign, which brought the good faith negotiations with the employer to an end.
The rejection by the employer was reasonable to make where the adjustments that she was seeking whilst on paper was only a reduction of 4 hours in total, actually meant that none of the programs she currently ran for her employer could be continued to be offered.
If you have staff seeking to negotiate hours and you are worried about potential risk if they resign or what to negotiate with them, contact Adam Foster at Lewis Holdway Lawyers on (03) 9629 9629 or firstname.lastname@example.org