Mr Carreras habitually worked long hours as an analyst for United First Partners Research, a brokerage firm. This ended when he had a cycling accident and suffered physical symptoms amounting to a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Thereafter, he finished work earlier, at 6.30 – 7.00pm. He alleged that he soon felt under pressure from his employer to work later hours. He believed his employer might make him redundant or withhold his bonus if he refused to work longer hours.
After a dispute about his working hours, Mr Carreras resigned and brought claims for unfair constructive dismissal and failure to make reasonable adjustments. Under the Equality Act 2010 employers are required to make reasonable adjustments when there is a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person. Mr Carreras relied on a PCP of his employer requiring that he work late.
The ET found that he was "expected" to work late but his employer had not forced him to do so – there was no "requirement". On appeal to the EAT, the EAT criticised the ET for adopting an approach that was too narrow. While a requirement might normally be taken to imply some compulsion, an expectation or assumption placed on an employee by the employer may well be enough. The EAT went on to find that an expectation to work long hours could amount to a PCP. The PCP should be interpreted widely to include, for example, any formal or informal policies, rules, practices, arrangements or qualifications including one-off decisions and actions. The EAT transferred the case back to the ET.
The case highlights that employers should be aware of workplace cultures that make employees feel obliged to work in a particular way, even where employees themselves bring about the culture and do not vocalise about the same.