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Advice firm to pay employee £15k over maternity treatment

Advice firm to pay employee £15k over maternity treatment
Photo by Leah Kelley: Pexels

A mortgage advice firm has been told by an employment tribunal it must pay a former employee more than £15,000 for “unfavourable treatment” during her pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave.

The claim, presented back in June 2019 by Bianca King, was filed against Mortgage Compare Limited and its director, George Dodds.

Published on April 20, the judgement alleged Dodds threatened King with dismissal after she informed him of her pregnancy, made “unwarranted and unsubstantiated” allegations of poor performance, and left her "in tears" after he shouted at her on one occasion.

The tribunal heard evidence from the claimant, who represented herself, as well as from the company’s director and three former employees of the broker firm.

According to the company’s website, the business is based in Bury St Edmunds, which lies between Cambridge and Ipswich. 

Dodds confirmed to FTAdviser that he and his firm are in the process of compiling an application with their solicitor for an appeal of the judgement, which they firmly disagree with.

Subject to appeal, Dodds and his firm have paid King £15,092.84 in compensation and wages following the tribunal judgement.

‘Threat of lay off sparked by pregnancy’

King began her employment at Swift Employment Corporation Limited - Mortgage Compare’s predecessor - back in September 2016 as a processing clerk.

On October 27, 2018,  King sent an email to her boss informing him she was pregnant and that her baby was expected on March 2, 2019. According to the tribunal, Dodds did not acknowledge the email.

About a week later, King requested some holiday leave which was acknowledged and granted by Dodds on a phone call, in which he cited the pregnancy for the first time.

On December 3, the two had a meeting, the tribunal said. In this meeting, King was allegedly presented with a letter by Dodds which stated she was to be “laid off with immediate effect”. 

Dodds told King his company was having some financial difficulties and could not continue “to keep her”, according to the tribunal, which added that no other employee was given such information.

When King told Dodds she would be absent from work due to maternity leave from March 2019, he allegedly took the letter off her and said “that changes everything, I did not know it was so soon”. 

King sent an email to Dodds later that day, seen by the tribunal, referring to the letter and her belief that she was “being discriminated against” due to her pregnancy status.

Dodds has denied the existence of such a letter, which was not presented to the tribunal. Its existence was, however, affirmed by a witness called to evidence - former employee Victoria Wright - who alleged she printed it at the request of Dodds and scanned it.

“It is evident to the employment tribunal and we conclude that the threat of laying off the claimant was only made to her as a result of her notification to the first (Dodds) and second respondent (Mortgage Compare) that she was pregnant,” the judgement read, made by employment Judge M Bloom.