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

4.63 Average

30 Reviews

Anonymous

Immediate response to my initial enquiry. Very clear throughout the whole process and thorough and great communication which worked really well during quite a stressful time. Chris Hadrill was extremely helpful and made me feel at ease.

Posted 1 month ago

Nick D

I received a very professional service from Chris. The advice given really helped to leave me comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. Would be happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent service from initial contact to deliverables.

Posted 2 months ago

Virginia K

Yes, Chris Hadrill answered all my questions and I feel more confident with my current situation

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill was referred to me my a friend of mine. I found the service to be efficient, quick and like Chris's direct approach to my work. Well done and thank you Chris!

Posted 2 months ago

Andy W

Very prompt & structured service that helped put my mind at rest at a difficult time

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I have found Redmans to be very helpful, diligant and thoroughly professional when dealing with them, plus they gone that extra mile for me !

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Thank you to Chris Hadrill at Redmans for his assistance in settling my case. I contacted him at the very last minute and he was happy to help me and managed to get everything done on time and in a very professional manner. I will definitely be happy to work with him again .

Posted 2 months ago

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 6 months ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 6 months ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 6 months ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 6 months ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Very efficient service. I never had to wIt for more than a day for a reply to any of my queries and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Very timely, thorough and helpful advice. Friendly and considerate of the needs of the client

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Very prompt and attention to detail. Thank you for the service

Posted 7 months ago

Chris

Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent work delivered with great quality

Posted 7 months ago

Dominic

Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

Posted 7 months ago

Kurt

Redmans gave excellent advice and helped me understand everything in clear concepts. Thank you!

Posted 7 months ago

Anonymous

Resolved my issues

Posted 7 months ago