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Employee awarded over £40,000 for claims including pregnancy and maternity discrimination

Employee awarded over £40,000 for claims including pregnancy and maternity discrimination

An employee, who was only two months into her maternity leave when she was dismissed, has been awarded over £40,000 by an Employment Tribunal for claims including pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Discrimination arising from pregnancy and maternity

The employee had been on maternity leave for only two months when she stopped receiving statutory maternity pay.  This had coincided with the actual ownership of the company that employed her changing hands, although with the same people still being involved.   Rather than transfer her across to the ‘new’ company, her employment was simply terminated along with the refusal to make any further maternity payments.  No reason was given for her being dismissed.

The Employment Tribunal found that the reason or principal reason for her dismissal was due to the fact that she was absent on ordinary and additional maternity leave.  As such, her dismissal was automatically unfair.

The Employment Tribunal also found that she had been discriminated against by being dismissed without notice and being told to claim her maternity pay from elsewhere.

The employee was awarded £3524.50 for outstanding maternity pay, £1475.60 for unpaid holiday pay and loss of earnings amounting to £16,970.32.

The employee also claimed injury to feelings for the way in which the discrimination impacted upon her.  The Employment Tribunal heard that being told she had no job during her maternity leave had a detrimental and adverse impact upon her health and well-being which adversely impacted her ability to feed her child, which caused additional distress. She was also prescribed antidepressants after six months and took time to recover.  The employee’s distress was worsened by the failure to contact her or to provide her with any means to access the rest of her maternity pay. This came at a time when she was vulnerable and through no fault of her own faced difficult financial circumstances which were outside of her control.

The Employment Tribunal also took account of the way the claim had been defended.  It was alleged that it was the employee who had “decided to leave without notice…” and that she was an unreliable witness who had exaggerated her claim in order to get a “big payday”.   Taking everything into account, the employee was awarded the sum of £12,500 for the injury to feelings.

For the total failure to inform and consult the employee about the fact of the transfer or the effect this would have on their contracts of employment or on any measures to be taken after the transfer, the employee was awarded 13 weeks gross pay amounting to £6240.

The case shows that a failure by an employer to deal properly with employees on maternity leave can lead to large claims for compensation.

If you would like to discuss maternity related issues or discrimination in the workplace then Hattons Solicitors can help. Please use our contact form or call 01744 744413 to speak to our experienced employment law team specialising in these matters.

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Posted on: 21/Oct/2021 Posted in: Employment Law
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