How Sarah Henderson, Employment Law Associate in our Brighton office, helped a woman who was made redundant just before she returned to work from maternity leave, increase her Settlement Agreement compensation due to maternity discrimination.
Amira was told by her employer two days before she was due to return to work after maternity leave that she was to be made redundant as a result of a downturn in business due to Covid.
She had less than two years’ service so she was not entitled to a statutory redundancy payment but she was offered a month’s salary ex gratia under a Settlement Agreement which would have required her to sign away her legal rights.
She came to us for advice as she was concerned that her maternity leave was a factor in the decision to dismiss her. We advised her that the company’s explanation for their decision to select her was inadequate and there was good reason to suspect maternity discrimination. The company had not understood their responsibilities towards her protected status as a woman on maternity leave, even if there was a genuine redundancy situation. The company had not consulted with her, she was unaware who else was in a pool for selection, and the company had not addressed their obligation to offer her any suitable alternative employment which was available.
Sarah wrote to the company on Amira’s behalf setting out her concerns about the decision and requesting detailed information to back up their business case. In correspondence, the company started to raise issues about Amira’s performance and to provide contradictory information to justify their decision.
ACAS Early Conciliation was started to protect Amira’s position so her claim was kept in time. Negotiations through the Acas Concilliator resulted in an increased settlement of over £40,000. This was equivalent to 6 months’ gross salary and six times higher than the original offer to settle.
Amira was pleased that she had additional time to look for another job as well having secured an agreed reference as part of the Settlement Agreement.