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CASE study

Changing working hours for Cambridge College

We have advised a Cambridge College on changing the working hours and pay for its Housekeeping department.

The Cambridge College sought to change the working hours and days of its domestic staff in response to the increased cleaning requirements resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased flexibility needed. The change in working hours would result in weekend working and a removal of enhanced weekend rates of pay, with the risk of not only constructive unfair dismissal claims, if the College sought to impose the change, but also an indirect sex discrimination risk for those domestics who couldn’t work the new pattern due to childcare commitments. The number of affected employees was more than 20; however, the College needed to implement the changes as soon as possible.

Our Education team guided the College through the different options and risks and assisted the College in obtaining consent from sufficient domestics, without the need for formal collective consultation, to achieve the flexible working arrangements that it needed to operate effectively.

The College has subsequently received a Tribunal claim from one of the domestics who did not consent to the change and resigned prior to the end of the consultation process. Our Education team are supporting the College in robustly defending the claim and are confident, given the process that the College went through, that the Claimant will not be successful.

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