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Bannatyne Fitness employee awarded £18,000 for unfair dismissal

A beauty therapist who was made redundant by the Bannatyne Fitness group because she was unable to work weekends has been awarded £18,000 for unfair dismissal and injury to her feelings.

The Employment Tribunal heard that Emma Holt had worked at Bannatyne Fitness in Carlisle for nearly 10 years. She had a flexible hours’ agreement with the company that meant she only had to work Monday to Friday because she was unable to arrange childcare at weekends.

At the beginning of 2016, senior managers told her that in future she would be required to work weekends.

Ms Holt said she tried to arrange childcare but there was nothing available at weekends in her area. She refused management’s request to work on Saturdays and Sundays and claimed the proposed change to her rota would not bring any additional benefit to the company.

Ms Holt told her managers: “My personal life doesn't allow me to work weekends. I have always given 150% in this company and I have always run the spa like it is my own. Whatever days I am in they get my full attention and I have put in extra time when needed in the past.

“I am not trying to be difficult with this. I fully understand where the business is coming from. I have no objections to working weekends but I just can't get childcare that my son will go to.

“Enforcing a change to my work pattern is breaching my flexible work agreement. I do feel this is unfair on the ground that I have worked continually for the company and with very little absence over the 10 years for either myself or my child.”

The tribunal held that she was unfairly dismissed and had suffered “anger, distress and affront” as a result of the company’s indirect discrimination. However, it rejected a claim that she was victimised by her employer.

Ms Holt was awarded £10,399 for unfair dismissal and £8,000 for injury to her feelings.

The Bannatyne Group issued a statement saying: “We are extremely disappointed with the outcome of the tribunal but will accept its findings.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.