Unfair refusal to grant an urgent ad-hoc working from home application
An employee applied to work from home for one week to care for their elderly parent following surgery. The agency declined this request on the basis that the employee would be unable to both care for their parent and perform their duties. The agency instead invited the employee to submit an application for carer’s leave. The employee did so, and this was granted.
The employee applied for review by the MPC as they felt the agency decision was unfair, and did not take into account the exceptional circumstances of their situation.
On review, we noted the employee’s application to work from home had a number of unique features:
the need for care was urgent and unexpected
alternative care arrangements had been in place but had fallen through due to exceptional circumstances
it was of brief duration
the employee’s parent required monitoring but minimal actual care.
The agency did not appear to take into account the above considerations prior to declining to grant the working from home request. Available evidence indicating the employee was monitoring their parent rather than providing personal care was a significant consideration in determining whether they were able to perform their duties remotely. In these circumstances, granting the application to work from home would not have negatively impacted the operational requirements of the business.
We recommended that the decision be set aside. The agency accepted this recommendation. The employee’s carer’s leave was re-credited to them and recorded instead as paid miscellaneous leave.