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Dundee care worker sacked after maternity leave ended awarded £6.5k

Allied Healthcare has been ordered to pay a former employee more than £6,500
Allied Healthcare has been ordered to pay a former employee more than £6,500

A Dundee care worker has been awarded more than £6,500 after being sacked within months of her maternity leave ending.

An employment tribunal has ruled that Allied Healthcare unfairly dismissed Victoria Stewart in May last year while she was employed as a home carer.

The hearing, held remotely, was told that Ms Stewart took a year off in February 2020 following the birth of her second child.

But issues began in January 2021 when the 24-year-old signalled her desire to return to work at Allied part-time and could not reach her manager to discuss the matter, despite trying repeatedly.

Employee sacked for not ‘complying’

In May, Ms Stewart was left in shock after receiving a P45 terminating her employment.

The tribunal was told that at the time, the business was seeking to recruit carers and would have had work available for her.

Allied Healthcare provides care at home services in Dundee.

A manager told the hearing that the reason for her dismissal was that Ms Stewart was not “compliant” by failing to provide ID for registration purposes.

In a published ruling, Judge Alexander Kemp said there were “some difficulties with the evidence for the respondent [Allied Healthcare]”.

He said the maternity form completed by a previous manager was “at best ambiguous, and at worst hopelessly contradictory”.

‘Failure of communication’ by firm

He said Allied Healthcare had a legal duty to write to Ms Stewart and supply a
return to work date but it failed to do so.

He said: “The evidence as a whole was of a failure of communication on the part of the
respondent.

“We did not consider that the respondent had proved a potentially fair reason for the dismissal.

“The position it took made no sense from the documentation before us, and in any event was contradicted by the claimant’s evidence.

The company was branded “unreasonable” by an employment judge.

“The respondent wholly failed in its obligation to inform the claimant of the date of
return to work after maternity leave.

“It then, having failed to do so, did not respond to her attempts to arrange a discussion about the return to work.

“No reasonable employer would have sent out the P45 to the claimant in the circumstances.

“There was, as we found, a failure properly to communicate with the claimant
who was trying to contact them to arrange her return to work.”

Injury to feelings and loss of earnings

Judge Kemp said the company should consider reviewing its policy and procedures in dealing with staff on maternity leave.

He ordered the firm to pay Ms Stewart £6,582.88 in compensation for lost wages and injury to feelings.

The Employment Tribunal Service is based in Dundee’s Greenmarket.

The judge added: “In circumstances where the claimant did wish to return to work after maternity leave on a part-time basis, which is far from a rare occurrence, and where the respondent wished to retain its staff, it is disappointing that more was not done to resolve matters between the parties by discussion at the time.”

Allied Healthcare is one of the UK’s largest care providers, offering basic home care as well as clinical, end-of-life, and reablement support.

It operates throughout the UK, and has about 2,600 employees.

The company has not responded to requests for comment, while Ms Stewart could not be reached for comment.

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