Woman wins £5k payout after ‘disappointing’ response from boss over pregnancy news

A social worker has won a £5,000 payout after receiving a “disappointing” response from a female boss when she announced she was pregnant.

Poppy Hedges-Staines informed her company that she was eight weeks pregnant, even before telling her family, because she was concerned about visiting a person who had suspected scabies, a contagious disease.

An employment tribunal heard that the 30-year-old was told by her line manager to speak to Cheryl Finlayson, director of Ipswich-based CF Social Work, who said: “Poppy, we’ve only just put you on a contract and now you’re telling me you are pregnant.”

Two months later, Miss Hedges-Staines sued for discrimination after she was let go by the company – and represented herself at the hearing as she could not afford to pay for a lawyer.

Ms Finlayson claimed she had not made the comment, but the tribunal concluded she had complained about the contract.

The social worker, whose son Knox is now 17 months old, was awarded £5,134 – £4,500 plus interest for injury to feelings.

She said: “It was really disappointing. I couldn’t believe that she said it – both as a woman and having children. She put a real dampener on my fantastic news.

“It was also shocking to be treated that way because of the line of work that we do, helping families out and children.”

Miss Hedges-Staines began working for CF Social Work Ltd in November 2019 as a self-employed social work assistant and in July 2020 received a six-month fixed term contract.

In November, she called her manager as she was worried about a home visit and said she was pregnant.

The following month, her workload was reduced as she was not able to work 48-hour shifts and do “sleep-ins” as required by the company because she was pregnant.

The company then concluded there was no work available for Miss Hedges-Staines and did not renew her contract, giving her four weeks’ notice with pay.

The new mum claimed she was fired because she was pregnant, but the tribunal noted that two other social work assistants who had six-month contracts also lost their jobs.

The tribunal dismissed the pregnancy discrimination claim but upheld a separate claim for unfair treatment, reports the Daily Mail.

In relation to the comments made by the company’s boss, employment Judge Michael Ord said: “We are satisfied that the remark amounted to unfavourable treatment, based on her pregnancy.”

The Mirror has contacted CF Social Work for comment.