Police Scotland agree to help stop discrimination against women who ask for flexible working

Published: 07 Mar 2019

Police Scotland have signed an agreement with us, Britain’s national equality body, committing to take all reasonable steps to prevent sex discrimination against female officers who request flexible working arrangements.

The agreement was signed after we told Police Scotland that we were concerned that the findings of Ms Fiona Mair’s discrimination case against the Chief Constable of the Police Service in Scotland (case number 41000068/16) weren’t fully acted on.

The employment tribunal found that Ms Mair had been unlawfully discriminated against when she was refused permission to work flexibly.

She sought the opportunity to continue to work full time hours, but on a flexible basis so she could look after her child.

However, Police Scotland refused the application because divisional practice was that officers should start and finish within their core shift hours.

The tribunal found that this practice provided little or no flexibility and disadvantaged single parents, who are predominately women.

In denying her application for flexible working, Police Scotland failed to balance the impact on Ms Mair compared with the relatively minor adjustments needed to accommodate her.

Lynn Welsh, our Head of Legal in Scotland, said:

‘We are pleased to have signed this agreement with Police Scotland.

‘As a result of it Police Scotland will take steps to prevent any future discrimination when considering flexible working requests.

‘It will also ensure that all applications are monitored to ensure this, and that all staff making decisions about granting or denying flexible working requests are aware of the implications of the ruling.

‘Flexible working is intended to give carers in particular the flexibility that they need to provide care for children or older people without having to leave their jobs.

‘We are heartened that Police Scotland have now recognised that not supporting flexible working could impact on female officer’s progression and pay.’

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor, Lead for Professionalism, Police Scotland, said:

‘Our officers and staff are our greatest asset and as an organisation we are committed to ensuring that we support our workforce to achieve a work-life balance.

‘The policing family is diverse, as are the needs of all those who work for us.

‘Police Scotland is committed to balancing the needs of our people while ensuring that we continue to effectively police Scotland and keep people safe.

‘Signing this agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission signals our ongoing commitment to supporting our officers and staff and to mainstreaming equality in our day to day decision making.’

The agreement will last for 16 months and during that time Police Scotland will implement the steps set out in a joint action plan, and report back to us on its progress.

Section 23 of the Equality Act 2006 allows us to enter into such agreements with another party. In return, we agree not to conduct an investigation using our powers under Section 20 of the same Act.


For further information and comment contact Chris.Oswald@equalityhumanrights.com or call 07846 889425.