Close up view of hand writing in notebook - iStock image

Case studies

Real life case studies from Accord members including our work supporting members challenging flexible working decisions.

down arrow
Crowded train during rush hour - iStock image

Standing up for flexible working

When Jenny* applied for her current position, she was told it was a work-from-home job, with a requirement to travel to the office only once a month. But then, not long after accepting the post, she and her colleagues were told they would be expected to travel to the office two days a week.

“I said no,” says Jenny. “That’s not what I agreed to and I wouldn’t have gone for this job if I knew that was going to happen.”

The 26-mile journey is a particular issue for Jenny, who faces barriers to taking long train journeys on her own. But when she submitted a flexible working request to continue her existing working pattern, it was refused. With Accord’s support, Jenny appealed the decision. But the appeal was turned down.

However, Jenny was confident that the employer didn’t have reasonable grounds to reject her request so, supported by Accord and Dallas McMillan, she eventually filed for Acas early conciliation.

Ultimately, the employer backed down and Jenny received a maximum settlement of eight weeks’ pay. Additionally, after making a statutory flexible working request, she was approved for permanent home working with a six-month review.

“But my whole thing wasn’t about the money,” Jenny says. “It was about the principle of this matter.”

Since then, colleagues have been coming to Jenny for advice on their own flexible working requests. Her recommendation to colleagues dealing with disagreements over flexible working is to follow the right procedures when expressing your concerns, starting with an email to your line manager. Then, if nothing comes of it, contact the union for advice. “I must have got about eight people to join the union,” she says.

Jenny was supported by Accord Regional Officer John Dickinson who says: “The learning from this situation is to make sure your case for flexible working is really strong before you put it in. Because if they can’t find a proper reason to decline it, as in Jenny’s case, then they can’t decline it.

*Not her real name

Work life balance choices - iStock image

Kerry's fight for better work-life balance

When Kerry Scott joined Bank of Scotland at eighteen, she was thrilled to start working in what was then considered a job for life. Over the years, she worked her way up to management, carrying out various roles in different branches in the Scottish Borders.

But as a mum of three, Kerry relied on the bank to support her need for work-life balance. Over a period of several years, she informally requested a change to her working days that would allow her to care for her kids on Fridays. Then, in 2021, she submitted a formal request to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rather than Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This didn’t represent a change to her overall working hours or her role. And at the time her branch was over its required number of managers, so Kerry was confident the change wouldn’t negatively impact the branch or her team. 

But despite these factors, Kerry’s request was refused on the grounds that the bank needed her in on a Friday, although they didn’t provide any evidence to support that claim. With support from John Dickinson at Accord, Kerry appealed the decision. And when the appeal was denied, Accord escalated the case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that the bank had unfairly declined Kerry’s request on the basis of incorrect facts. 

Ultimately, Kerry won the case and the tribunal found nothing in the bank’s favour. But the outcome was bittersweet since, due to the strain the whole experience had caused, Kerry decided to accept voluntary redundancy. Though she loved her job and colleagues, she didn’t feel she could continue in a workplace where she hadn’t been supported.

John Dickinson, Accord Regional Officer for Scotland, says: “I was delighted with the verdict of the Employment Tribunal and hope it will mean that the bank will agree to flexible working where it can, rather than simply declining requests with no valid reason.” 

Kerry has now returned to university to study paediatric nursing. She says that although she had to go through something awful in the bank, she’s grateful to have a new exciting future ahead, and the opportunity to help others and make a difference.

Business woman working in home office - iStock image

Making the case for reasonable adjustments

All employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for workers living with disabilities to remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantages they might face. But when Lesley* needed the option of working from home, her employer wasn’t willing to make it happen.

Lesley lives with Multiple Sclerosis, which significantly limits her ability to travel and to work in certain roles. During the pandemic, when she was required to shield, she worked from home and later, after returning from a period of sick leave, requested to work from home again. But by then she was in a new role and the employer told her it wasn’t possible for systems security reasons.

After a long delay, in which Lesley was technically employed and available for work but not being paid, she began a claim against the employer for failing to make reasonable adjustments that would allow her to work.

In Lesley’s case, Accord and Dallas McMillan argued that the employer should have been willing to trial alternatives that might have allowed her to work from home. Lesley was proactive about the situation, making clear to the employer that she was willing to change roles, retrain or develop new skills to make a transition to home-working possible. But despite this, her employer continued to demand some attendance in the office and a mediation process failed to reach a suitable outcome.

David Hutchison, a solicitor from Dallas McMillan, says: “It seemed to be one of those cases when the employer didn’t look at her as an individual. They just looked at it as a policy that they wanted staff in the office. But there’s a reasonable adjustment to be made here. You need to look at the individual facts of the person.”

With the support of Accord and Dallas McMillan, Lesley eventually reached a settlement with the bank shortly before her case was due to go to tribunal. Though her employment has ended, she received an ex-gratia payment of about twelve months salary, along with her notice and holiday pay. This was a positive outcome for Lesley, which leaves her in a much better position than if her employment had been terminated without a settlement.

Members like Lesley who are living with illness or disabilities are entitled to request the reasonable adjustments they need to be able to work, and Accord will always support members to negotiate those changes.

*Not her real name



A 'trip' to the local supermarket

A trip to a local supermarket in North Ayrshire ended badly for Teresa* when she slipped and fell on a paper towel that had been left on the floor of the shop.

After feeling immediate pain, Teresa was taken to hospital for examination. She sustained soft tissue injuries to her right foot, right knee and lower back. The pain and discomfort continued for around 2 years following the accident.

Accord’s Scottish solicitors, Dallas McMillan, took on the case and negotiated a settlement of Teresa’s claim. 

As a result, she received £6,000 compensation.

Says Teresa: “I contacted David McElroy at Dallas McMillan and was delighted with the professional, friendly service that I received. I was advised of the progress throughout the claim which gratefully ended in a successful outcome. I would highly recommend Dallas McMillan.”

*Not her real name

David McElroy

Had Teresa used a local or high street solicitor, she would have been charged 20% of damages and would have ended up only receiving £4,800 of her compensation. 

As a result of her Accord membership, however, she was entitled to use our services entirely free of charge thus ensuring that she received 100% of her compensation.

If you've had an accident in the last three years that was not your fault and you wish to make a claim for compensation, please feel free to contact me.

David McElroy, Dallas McMillan