Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Ms M Walworth v Scrivens Ltd: 1301685/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that Ms Walworth had been discriminated against by her employer when it failed to ensure parity of treatment for her whilst she was on maternity leave.

The facts in Walworth v Scrivens Ltd

Ms Walworth commenced employment with Scrivens Ltd (“Scrivens”), a chain of opticians, on 26 January 2009. It was later agreed between the parties that she would become a Trainee Dispensing Optician with effect from 13 September 2010, and in connection with this the parties agreed a “Training/Service Agreement” on 16 August 2010 in order for Ms Walworth to be trained as a Dispensing Optician to the standards required by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians.

The Training Agreement contained a term to the effect that, should Ms Walworth leave her employment after 15 December 2014 but before 14 December 2016 she would be due to repay £11,000 in terms of her training costs to Srivens, and if she left after 15 December 2016 but before 14 December 2017 then she would be due to repay £5,500 in terms of her training costs.

At the end of August 2015 Ms Walworth notified Scrivens that she was pregnant, with the estimated due date being April 2016.

On 11 September 2015 Ms Hibberd (HR Manager) wrote to Ms Walwroth acknowledging her pregnancy and stating her Training Agreement would be reviewed to take into account her period of maternity leave.

Ms Walworth subsequently notified Scrivens that she wished to commence maternity leave on 18 April 2016, and on 11 January 2016 Ms Hibberd wrote to Ms Walworth to set out some of the arrangements for her maternity leave – this included a stipulation by Scrivens that, as she was going on maternity leave, the training repayment period under her Training Agreement would be ‘paused’ and the appropriate remaining amount of this period (“the pause clause”).

On 9 February 2016 Ms Walwroth wrote to Scrivens to complain that she believed that she had been subjected to pregnancy and maternity discrimination, although she did not complain about the pause clause in that letter. A grievance process followed and Ms Walworth’s complaints of discrimination were not upheld. Ms Walworth then began maternity leave on 18 April 2016, with her daughter born shortly after this.

On 6 January 2017 Ms Walworth called Ms Hibberd to discuss her return to work. In this telephone conversation it was discussed (among other things) that Ms Walworth was struggling to make childcare arrangements for her daughter and whether Ms Walworth could take a sabbatical.

On 10 February 2017 Ms Hibberd wrote to Ms Walwroth to state that she understood that Ms Walworth was considering her options but she may not return to work from maternity leave. The letter also stated that she would be expected to give twelve weeks’ notice of termination if she did wish to resign and, further, that if she did resign she would have to repay £11,000 under the Training Agreement.

On 13 March 2017 Ms Walworth wrote to Scrivens to inform it that she was submitting her notice of termination of employment, effective immediately. The reason given for her resignation was that she believed that the pause period was discriminatory and that there was no mention of any pause period in the Training Agreement.

Scrivens withheld Ms Walworth’s outstanding holiday pay accrued to the termination date as a set-off against the £11,000 training repayment that it claimed that it was owed.

Ms Walworth subsequently submitted Employment Tribunal claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, constructive dismissal, and unlawful deduction from wages.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Walworth v Scrivens Ltd

The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Walworth’s claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination, constructive dismissal, and unlawful deduction from wages.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

The Employment Tribunal held that the implementation of the ‘pause period’ policy constituted unfavourable treatment which Ms Walworth was subjected to because she exercised her right to take period of ordinary or additional maternity leave, as this policy breached regulation 9 of the Maternity & Parental Leave Regulations 1999 (in that it required her (in comparison with someone who did not take maternity leave) to undertake additional service before being free of her obligation to repay her training fee).

Constructive dismissal

The Employment Tribunal held that the implementation of the ‘pause period policy’ constituted a (repudiatory) breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence, that Ms Walworth had resigned because of this breach, and that she had not delayed too long in resigning. The Tribunal therefore upheld the claim for constructive dismissal.

Unlawful deduction from wages

The Tribunal held that Ms Walworth had a legal entitlement to be paid holiday pay upon the termination of her employment but that she was not paid such.

The Tribunal ordered that a remedy hearing be held in due course.

Our solicitors’ view on Walworth v Scrivens Ltd

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case demonstrates that employers must ensure that the terms and conditions that are applied to employees on maternity leave do not treat them less favourably than employees who have not taken a period of maternity leave – a failure to ensure equal treatment may result, as with this case, in an Employment Tribunal claim.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.62 Average

53 Reviews

Anonymous

Both Rana and Chris were fantastic. From the first phone call I was confident my matter was in good hands. I was not disappointed. I would highly recommend Redmans. Thank you again for all of your support and advice.

Posted 3 days ago

Federico S

Great advices and communication. Through Redmana I obtained match more than what I thought. Highly recommended

Posted 5 days ago

Tom G

A good and efficient service with the required legal advice provided for a settlement agreement.

Posted 5 days ago

Francis T

The solicitor I used was Chris Hadrill, who I found extremely professional and I felt that he made me feel at ease, considering the subject matter he was assisting me with.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Chris provided excellent assistance with the negotiation of my settlement agreement. From start to finish, I was consitently updated and advised on the best course of action to take. I would highly recommend Chris and Redmans Solicitors.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

They are busy people but manage well so generally I would recommend them.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very efficient and professional service from my first phone call making an enquiry. Timescales of the matter in hand were met and within the agreed budget. Would highly recommend Redmans

Posted 3 weeks ago

Lisa B

Really very good service, always available to answer questions, provide my with any information I needed to make informed decisions.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Offered good support and advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris reviewed and managed my compromise agreement swiftly, accurately, helpfully, and on budget. His input on key non-compete clauses was valuable, his communications were clear and concise, and he was always swift in responding. Highly recommended.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Gurbir C

Excellent legal advice service.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Tim

I found Redmans to be very helpful and efficient in conducting my case which was concluded in a timely and diligent manner

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I found Redman Solicitors to be very good and worked very well to an extremely tight timescale. I would happily recommend them again especially Rana.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I received excellent, knowledgeable and critically timely support from Chris regarding my settlement agreement, and would wholeheartedly recommend Chris in these matters.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Katelyn

The solicitor communicated well with me and made sure I understood everything. He did everything needed for my settlement agreement and tried to get the wording changed in my favour too.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided excellent services

Posted 4 weeks ago

Sibel U

Excellent service

Posted 4 weeks ago

Peter S

I was very happy with the level of advise I received from Caroline Lewis, and a very professional service fron Chris, The advice given really helped me and I was comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. I would be more than happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Derek S

I very much appreciated the help provided by Redmans in the settlement agreement agreed with my former employer.

Posted 1 month ago

Waseem M

It was the first ime I used Redmans Solicitors and to be honest, thety were amazing. Rana Tandon and Chris Hadrill were out of this world. They made the process as simply and smooth as can be. Thank you so much for all your support over the last week.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Worked very quickly considering right deadlines - and gave great advice

Posted 1 month ago