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Tribunal rejects bid for full-time home working

Published on: 1 Feb 2024

A senior manager at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has lost an employment tribunal claim in which she sought to force her employer to let her work entirely from home. 


Elizabeth Wilson, who had worked entirely remotely since the Covid pandemic began in 2020, submitted a flexible working request to work from home without attending an office. The tribunal heard that she was the direct line manager of four staff and indirectly responsible for 10 others.

The FCA had introduced a policy of working two days in the office and refused the request, arguing that several elements of her job meant working remotely would have a “detrimental impact” on performance. These included meeting and welcoming new staff, internal training, supervision and department needs, and attendance at in-person events, conferences, and planning and weekly meetings.

Wilson lodged a tribunal claim, accusing the FCA of failing to communicate the appeal outcome within the statutory decision period and basing its rejection of her application on incorrect facts.

In a ruling, judge Judith Richter said the statutory limit was breached by 21 days and awarded Wilson one week’s pay of £643. However, she rejected Wilson’s claim, ruling that there is no right to require an employer to allow an employee to work exclusively remotely.

The judge noted that technology “is not well suited to the fast-paced interplay of exchanges that occur in, for example, planning meetings or training events when rapid discussion can occur on topics”. 

She continued: “there is […] a limitation to the ability to observe and respond to non-verbal communication that may arise outside of the context of formal events but which nonetheless forms an important part of working with other individuals.

“This is particularly so when considering the senior position held by the claimant.”