A woman has won an employment tribunal claim after being told by her employer that her role “no longer existed” following maternity leave.
Dr. Katie Lidster has received a payout of £23,000 in damages after being demoted by her employer whilst away on maternity leave.
The scientist had been working at UK Research and Innovation, a government-funded firm, for seven years before undergoing an emergency caesarean section two months before her due date – ultimately giving birth to a premature daughter.
Following the complications linked to her daughter’s birth, Dr. Lidster reached back out to her employer after seven months to discuss her return following maternity leave.
However, at this point, her line manager stated that it would “not be appropriate” for her to return to her former position and was instead offered a role with fewer responsibilities which spanned only four days a week.
Additionally, her employer also informed her that her previous role now no longer existed following her extended leave.
Despite this, five weeks later, a colleague contacted Dr. Lidster to inform her of an internal job advertisement being circulated which was almost identical to the previous position she held.
Dr. Lidster stated:
They had added one word to the job description and one responsibility, which I had been doing anyway.
This role was ultimately given to the person which covered Dr. Lidster’s position whilst she was away on maternity leave.
This prompted the scientist to leave her position in December before bringing forward an employment tribunal claim.
Her former employer, UKRI, was ordered to pay £23,000 in damages in addition to interest.
The judge presiding the case also expressed that Dr. Lidster’s employers were aware of health conditions that she faced after giving birth to her daughter including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.
Dr Lidster reacted to this ruling, stating:
I can now focus on spending quality time with my family, especially my girls and start to refocus my career.
At the time I didn’t realise how long the whole process would take. They had taken my career away from me so I had no option but to fight for justice.
A UKRI spokesperson also responded:
We do not comment on individual employment matters. However, we have conceded liability in this case and we wish Dr. Lidster well in the future.