March 13 2000
Father fights to be part-time PCBY FRANCES GIBB
A POLICE constable brought a sex discrimination claim against his employers because, he said, they had refused to allow him to work part-time.
PC Jeffrey Gilbert, a community beat officer, applied to the Thames Valley Police to reduce his working hours so that he could help in looking after his three children.
His wife, Tyler, is employed full-time as a hospital operating theatre practitioner, and the couple decided that it would be easier if he reduced his hours.
However, PC Gilbert's request was turned down because the force considered that childcare was not "reason enough" to make alterations in his duties.
At the time, he said: "I wholeheartedly believe this situation would never have happened if it was a female who asked for time off to care for her children."
The officer, 29, did not think that his request to go part-time for ten months had been treated sufficiently seriously.
The couple's five-year-old daughter had not at the time started school and they also had a ten-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. The officer said that he did not want the older children to become "latch-key kids".
His first request was refused and, at the second request, he said that he was told that he would have to reapply for his job, which could not be guaranteed.
He decided reluctantly to go for legal action in a stand for male officers. "Every minority group is catered for but the majority of the workforce do not have a voice," he said.
The complaint was settled in October before the tribunal claim got under way, through the Police Federation and Acas, the Advisory Arbitration and Conciliation Service.
By then the couple's circumstances had changed because they had found a school that could take their younger daughter early. He said that he hoped his experience would mean that other male officers received fairer treatment.
Copyright 2000, Times Newspapers Ltd.