A restaurant manager who was sacked for being pregnant has been awarded almost £16,000 in compensation.

The woman was shocked to be told by an HR boss that she had been “P45’d” when she called to discuss her maternity pay arrangements.

Pregnancy is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 meaning women are exempt from “unfavourable action” including dismissal or changes to terms or conditions.

An employment tribunal was told Ms A. McKnight started working at the Word Up bar and nightclub in Greenock in November 2020.

She was offered set hours by bar manager Leah Campbell to fit in with her college studies.

In late November 2021, she was asked by her then-manager Mark Bryceland if she would be interested in a promotion to the role of assistant manager at the restaurant Fenwick 47, which is also in Greenock and is owned by WBI Limited. Both firms are registered at the same address.


In December of that year the restaurant announced plans to invest £25,000 in the premises and promised to create five new jobs to support its re-opening on July 2022, trading as Fenwick Tapas.

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Her pay was increased to reflect the promotion and from January to March 2022 she tended to work between 18 and 23 hours per week. 

The claimant discovered she was pregnant in mid-January 2022. 

She told the restaurant’s general manager, Johnny Carruthers and he sent her a message congratulating her.

Her due date was September 20 and she planned to take her maternity leave between August 11 and 23, wishing to wait until nearer the time to decide.

In February last year she began experiencing pain and sickness connected with her pregnancy. She was open about this and was largely able to work her usual number of hours as the symptoms were not constant.

From the end of March, while she was experiencing occasional sickness she was offered “noticeably fewer” shifts than before. 

Her boss claimed it was quiet in the restaurant. She was told to “pop in for a catch up” on April 26 and offered one shift.

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When she called to discuss maternity pay with Lynsey Penman, who dealt with wages and other HR issues, she was told she has been “P45’d’.

She contacted her boss who did not deny that she had been dismissed and later sent her a WhatsApp message saying,”no hard feelings”.

The next time he sent her a message was on September 17 2022 to congratulate her on the birth of her son.

The claimant believed that she was dismissed because of her pregnancy and in particular because the point when she would be taking maternity leave, and would become entitled to maternity pay, was approaching.

The restaurant was put up for sale in November last year with a quarter of a million-pound pricetag just months after a major rebrand. 

Neither business was represented at the tribunal which found Ms McKnight had been unfairly dismissed due to her pregnancy.

The business also flouted section 18 of the Equality Act 2010 because the employee was offered fewer hours of work than normal despite confirming she was available for shifts.

Managers also failed to engage with her sufficiently or adequately in arrangements for maternity leave and confirmation of maternity pay arrangements.

She was awarded £9,900.00 for injury to feelings and £5,465.12 as compensation for unfair dismissal as well as £591.28 in wages.

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The tribunal panel, before employment judge Brian Campbell, said: “The unexpected decision to dismiss the claimant caused her a degree of stress at a time when she was already experiencing illness and other symptoms connected to her pregnancy. 

“She had financial commitments in relation to her flat and car as well as everyday expenses. 

“She called upon her partner and father to help her pay her bills. She felt upset and vulnerable. 

“She felt that the way in which her dismissal was implemented was particularly underhand.”

The tribunal was told that the employee was at no point given a statement of her terms and conditions of employment in writing as required by law.