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Words Can Be Powerful…..

Words Can Be Powerful…..

…..And Costly

The outcome of some Employment tribunal cases can sometimes teach us, as employers of domestic staff, just how careful we need to be before asking questions.

A simple enquiry can lead to a costly outcome.

Take for instance the recent case of a female employee who was asked when she intended to return to work after having given birth.

In a recent tribunal, the judge ruled that the question was discrimination.

In this case the woman, Laura Dufy, was an assistant at Barnet Haringey Mental Health Trust. One of the superiors nodded towards her stomach and questioned what were her “future plans.”

She was asked to attend a meeting with a manager of the Trust, after a disgruntled colleague made a  “stereotypical assumption” that she would not come back to work after her maternity leave.

The employment tribunal heard that Duffy was also accused of planning her pregnancy in order to gain a promotion. She is now in line for compensation after winning her claim of pregnancy discrimination. The hearing was told that Duffy was paid as a “band four” employee, meaning that she earned up to £25,000 a year

Duffy — whose pregnancy was deemed high-risk — was told in August 2019 that there was to be restructuring of the personal assistant team and bosses planned to match her position automatically to a new band five role, where salaries are increased to up to £28,000.

The tribunal heard that her colleague Joanne Cleasby was “annoyed” about this as she thought it unfair for Duffy to be job-matched when she had been told that she would have to apply to be promoted to a higher band.

The hearing was told that Cleasby wrongly thought Duffy was receiving preferential treatment because she was pregnant and complained to colleagues about it. In its judgment the tribunal said, “Ms Cleasby made two unwanted comments related to Mrs Duffy’s pregnancy, namely: ‘You planned your pregnancy well’, and ‘Have you told your boss that you won’t be coming back after maternity?’

Words can be powerfull ….and costly

The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.