Pregnant woman forced to borrow money for food, bills and Christmas after Preston company left her heavily in debt
A pregnant woman found herself unable to pay for food, energy bills and a deposit for her new home when the Preston company she worked for cut her hours.
An employment tribunal has learned how the woman, named Miss M Wilson, was forced to ask HMRC for maternity pay when her employer, Purple Roomz in Bamber Bridge, stopped paying her.
The company, which is registered at an address in Preston, has been ordered to pay her over Â£ 21,000 as a result of the ‘act of discrimination’ which left her anxious, depressed and in financial trouble.
Labor judge Slater learned of how Miss Wilson’s hours were cut in January until she went on maternity leave in August 2019, for which the company also “refused to pay”.
Surviving only on her partner’s salary of around Â£ 1,300 per month, she was Â£ 254 per week out of pocket for the entire period leading up to maternity and was referred for financial assistance to buy her Christmas gifts. children.
On top of that, she was forced to borrow from family members because she was unable to pay her credit card bills. causing her to sink into a depression.
The judge’s report states: âThe plaintiff and her partner have already had a child and another expected, then born on August 26, 2019.
âThe family relied on the claimant’s income, in addition to that of her partner, to pay for normal financial expenses.
âThe income of Â£ 1,300 per month from the applicant’s partner was not sufficient to cover these expenses. The claimant used loans from family members to pay his bills.
âThe applicant’s sister paid for her groceries for a few weeks and her mother prepared hot meals for them because they could not afford to eat as they normally would with two incomes. They could not afford to pay for their gas and electricity for a few weeks. . “
After obtaining advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Miss Wilson applied for universal credit, but was subsequently investigated by the DWP as she was technically still employed.
HMRC had paid her maternity allowance when her company refused to do so. But then she received an injunction to repay the universal credit to the tune of Â£ 2,379, which she was still repaying at the time of court in November last year.
Before losing her job she had also made a Â£ 72 deposit on her ‘dream pram’ but was unable to continue payments when her hours were interrupted, so she lost the deposit and the pram.
“Shortly before the baby was born, the claimant and her family had to move because the house they rented was infested with rats,” the report added. “If the claimant had worked and earned a salary, she could have paid for the first month’s rent and drop off, but they had to borrow the required Â£ 1,200 from a family member.”
The court heard how Miss Wilson suffered moral injury and financial loss as a result of the discrimination against her as a pregnant woman and she still has to face those consequences.
Labor judge Slater said he would not order Purple Roomz to pay for her maternity because she had received it from HMRC, but he was ordered to pay Â£ 12,000 compensation for hurt feelings.
On top of that he has to pay Â£ 1,443.95 of interest, Â£ 7,598.30 of wages illegally deducted from the period before her maternity leave and Â£ 74.54 which is the deposit for the pram, plus interest. on his credit card.
The judge added: âThe plaintiff clearly suffered moral injury as a result of the act of discrimination.
âShe suffered from worry, anxiety, and depression, especially from the financial hardships she endured, as noted in my other findings of fact.
âShe suffered this injury for an extended period from January 2019 until the presentation of this claim and beyond. She continues to suffer the financial consequences of the respondents’ failure to provide her with hours of work.
âThe Respondents’ actions left her in a very difficult situation, with no income and not knowing whether or not she was still employed.
âShe was without income for a substantial period before the start of maternity leave and only received her maternity benefit after a delay, from HMRC, rather than receiving it from her employer in a timely manner. situation led her to make a claim for a universal credit that she had to repay.
“I conclude that this is a serious case of hurt feelings …”
Purple Roomz Ltd has been contacted for comment.
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