Northern Ireland

Derry woman settles flexible working case with Smyths Toys

Smyths
Image caption Ms McCaul worked as an assistant manager at Smyth's Toys

A woman who was refused flexible working after returning from maternity leave has settled her case against Smyths Toys for £15,000.

Catherine McCaul, 36, was employed as an assistant manager in the company's Strand Road, Londonderry, store.

In April 2011 she went off on maternity leave for the birth of her second child.

She resigned in March 2012 after her formal request for flexible working arrangements was refused.

While still on maternity leave, Ms McCaul had made a written request to work a three-day week so she could care for her two children.

She was willing to work evenings, weekends and days as long as this was facilitated with a three day week.

Smyths told her they were not in a position to grant her request for part-time working in her position as assistant manager.

She felt her only option was to resign, as she believed her employer had not given any real consideration to her request, but had applied a blanket policy to her.

Ms McCaul alleged that the refusal to grant her flexible working request, and the insistence that management positions must be undertaken full time, was indirectly discriminatory because of its disproportionate impact on women managers.

In settling the case, Smyths Toys agreed to pay Ms McCaul £15,000 and expressed their regret for the injury caused to her feelings.

The company is to review its practice of requiring all managers to work full-time and to liaise with the Equality Commission in a review of its equal opportunities policies and practices, in particular those concerning flexible working.

Smyths also agreed to supply Ms McCaul with a written reference.

Ms McCaul said: "I am glad this is over and very much hope that as a result of this settlement fewer women have to go through such a stressful experience as I did.

"I enjoyed my job at Smyths for 10 years and was surprised and disappointed that this was how it ended. I hope this is the first step in getting these issues sorted out at company level."

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