How Nicole Tovey, an Employment Law Solicitor in Brighton negotiated a settlement where an employee had been subject to maternity discrimination when she was permanently replaced by her maternity cover.
Lucy was employed by an international law firm as an Anti-Money Laundering Manager. She had worked hard to secure her position and had been promoted on several occasions. She continually “exceeded expectations” in all of her performance reviews.
Lucy took her full entitlement to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Just before she was due to return to work, she was informed that she had been replaced by her maternity cover and was offered an alternative role which she considered to be a demotion. Her employer told her that if she did not accept the new role, they would have no option but to accept her resignation.
This deeply upset our client who wanted to return to her old job. The company offered Lucy a Settlement Agreement with very little compensation for her waiving her right to bring a claim for maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Nicole advised her to raise a formal grievance so that she could negotiate to increase the sum offered.
Nicole advised Lucy that she was legally entitled to return to her previous role on the same terms and conditions, unless her employer could show it was not reasonably practicable. Her employers preference to retain her maternity cover was not a sufficient reason to refuse to allow her to return to her job after maternity leave.
Nicole sent a letter to her employer asserting her rights and complaining that she had been discriminated against because she was on maternity leave. She made it clear that this was in breach of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999, the Employment Rights Act 1996 and unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
Nicole’s letter resulted in our client being offered an additional £10,000 in compensation. The total package provided just over 10 months take-home pay which meant that our client was able to cover her financial outgoings until she could find another job, at the same level.
We also managed to secure an agreement that the employer would pay all of our client’s legal costs rather than her also having to make a financial contribution. We delayed our client’s leaving date so that the settlement payment date was delayed to the next tax year, so that her settlement was more tax efficient. The revised Settlement Agreement was finalised within a week of Nicole putting forward better payment terms for our client.