Northamptonshire housing association Greatwell Homes has been ordered to pay a former employee £50,000 at employment tribunal after a maternity leave dispute.
The association, which manages thousands of homes in Wellingborough, Kettering and Raunds, was taken to court after the member of staff claimed she had ‘suffered a detriment’ while on maternity leave.
R Smith argued that she has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer for a prescribed reason. Employment law states that these include pregnancy, childbirth, maternity leave adoption leave, shared parental leave, parental leave, paternity leave and parental bereavement leave.
According to a panel of three that included employment judge R Wood, the judgment found Smith had been treated less favourably by her former employer during her maternity leave.
Wood said: “The claimant Miss Smith was treated less favourably by Greatwell Homes on the grounds that she was on maternity leave at the relevant time contrary to section 18 of the Equality Act 2010. The claimant suffered a detriment in the grounds that she was on maternity leave at the relevant time contrary to section 47(C) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Upon agreement between the parties, the respondent must pay to the claimant the sum of £50,000 in total in respect of the above matters.”
Julie Robinson, executive director at Greatwell Homes, whose remit includes responsibility for HR, said: “We take our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion at work very seriously and pride ourselves on being a flexible employer of choice.
“We take a proactive approach to ensuring staff and customers are treated fairly with monitoring and actions undertaken by our employee diversity working group and our ongoing work with the Housing Diversity Network to becoming an accredited organisation. This tribunal case relates back to 2020 and we recognise our focus needs to be on taking the time to reflect fully and consider any learnings and recommendations from the employment tribunal’s ruling.”
Benefits offered by the housing association include 25 annual leave days that increases with service, plus bank holidays, a health cash plan, performance-related unconsolidated recognition payments, free local gym membership, an employee assistance programme, an eyecare scheme, and regular events promoting physical, mental and financial wellbeing.