GP practice manager sacked after becoming pregnant wins extra payout

GP practice manager sacked after becoming pregnant wins extra payout
Naomi Hefford was derided as ‘mother hen’ by bosses

A GP practice manager who was sacked when she became pregnant has won an increased payout following a tribunal.

Naomi Hefford was awarded some £294,000 earlier this year after it was revealed her employers, Queensway Surgery in Southend, Essex, had unfairly sacked her.

But now the mother-of-two has been handed extra cash after a judge ruled she was owed a higher wage consideration, due to a mistake in calculating pension contributions, and compensation for lost bonuses.

The recalculation means she is now due a total of £313,672.36.

At the tribunal this summer it was found that Ms Hefford’s bosses had conspired to sack her after she announced she was pregnant in November 2018, a year after she began working at Queensway. The pregnancy was high-risk.

She said she had overheard them discussing the plot, describing her as a “mother hen”, and one of them saying: “If we are going to do this what will be our excuse?”

Employment judge Fiona McLaren agreed that evidence suggested doctors at Queensway had concocted the plan, writing in her judgment: “There were no significant concerns about the claimant’s performance at this time, the only change in circumstance was the claimant’s pregnancy.”

Ms Hefford was later subjected to an investigation into her behaviour at work and confronted at a “heavy-handed” meeting, of which Judge McLaren wrote: “The lack of notice, format of the meeting and the manner in which it was conducted were not in accordance with ACAS best practice.

“We conclude that it would clearly put an individual with a high-risk pregnancy under an unnecessary degree of stress.”

After this Ms Hefford raised a grievance, which was dismissed, and she was then put into a formal disciplinary process over what her bosses feared were breaches of confidentiality and other misbehaviour. She was suspended in April 2019 and sacked while in hospital two months later.

Contudo, Judge McLaren found on the balance of probabilities that Ms Hefford had not committed any actions amounting to gross misconduct.

Concluding her judgment, she wrote that Ms Hefford’s pregnancy was the main reason she was sacked and that concerns about her conduct before she announced she was expecting were “trivial”.

Ela adicionou: “We have found that the respondent had determined to dismiss the claimant at least by January 2019. The dismissal which occurred later that year was said to be based on four allegations of gross misconduct. We have found that the allegations of breach of confidence did not occur. We have concluded that the remaining three allegations are very minor and do not in constitute a disciplinary issue.”

O Independente has contacted Queensway Surgery for comment.

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