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Midwife wins compensation over ‘indirect sex discrimination’ while on maternity leave

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A midwife has been awarded almost £5,000 in compensation, after a panel found she was treated unfairly by the caseloading midwifery service that she was employed by while on maternity leave.

Naomi Leigh-Poole, from Wirral, took One to One Midwives North West to an industrial tribunal and won a case of “indirect sex discrimination”. Ms Leigh-Poole, a member of the Royal College of Midwives, was facing redundancy while she was pregnant.

“This victory is not about the money, it is about the principle and it is about fairness”

Naomi Leigh-Poole

The RCM said the company had failed to meet Ms Leigh-Poole’s requests to be kept updated about possible job opportunities arising at the organisation that she could apply for while she was on maternity leave.

The tribunal panel determined the company had unintentionally discriminated against Ms Leigh-Poole based on her sex, according to the RCM, which supported the midwife throughout the trial.

Reflecting on her win, Ms Leigh-Poole, who no longer works for the firm, said: “This victory is not about the money, it is about the principle and it is about fairness.”

She added: “I don’t want other women to have to face this situation. I hope this will help to raise awareness about this and perhaps stop other employers from doing the same.”

“An organisation that delivers midwifery services should know better”

Jamie Humphries

Lesley Wood, regional officer for the RCM, said she was “delighted” with the result. “It is important that employers know they cannot treat women on maternity leave in this way,” she said. “Naomi put her faith in her employer and they let her down.”

Jamie Humphries, employment rights lawyer at Thompsons Solicitors, which represented Ms Leigh-Poole, said: “An organisation that delivers midwifery services should know better than any the importance of treating pregnant workers fairly.”

He added: “For their poor treatment to amount to indirect sex discrimination is an indictment of Naomi’s employer,” he said. ”It was important to us that our client was vindicated and as a firm we are proud act for any RCM member subject to unfair treatment or injury while at work.”

A spokeswoman for One to One Midwives, a caseloading midwifery service commissioned by the NHS, stressed the discrimination against Ms Leigh-Poole was unintentional.

“One-to-One Midwives offered full-time and part-time opportunities to promote flexible working opportunities”

One-to-One spokeswoman

She said Ms Leigh-Poole’s job at the organisation had “remained open”, even though her role had been made redundant under an “organisational restructure”.

“Taking into account the return to work options available to Mrs Leigh-Poole, One-to-One Midwives offered full-time and part-time opportunities to promote flexible working opportunities and also offered alternative posts that became available within the organisation during her employment that would have met her needs at that time,” said the spokeswoman.

She added: “Mrs Leigh-Poole did not wish to return to her role as a case loading midwife but also did not respond to any of the return to work opportunities and failed to attend interview for positions which arose.”

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