Factory worker sacked after taking day off for pregnant partner's emergency scan

·4-min read
In the Hospital, Close-up Shot of the Doctor does Ultrasound / Sonogram Procedure to a Pregnant Woman. Obstetrician Moving Transducer on the Belly of the Future Mother.
A factory worker was unfairly sacked for taking a day off because his pregnant partner had an emergency scan. (File photo)

A factory worker has won £8,000 in compensation after he was unfairly sacked for taking a day off to accompany his pregnant partner for an emergency baby scan.

Craig Jewell tried to book off annual leave for the appointment but was told, "Can you f*** have Monday off" by line manager Garren Lowndes, an employment tribunal heard.

Jewell then tried to take the day off as "dependant leave" as he needed to look after a six-year-old child while his partner was in hospital.

When the online booking system did not work he told Lowndes over the phone he would not be in, but was hauled before a disciplinary meeting when he returned to work.

While managing director Damian Hunt intervened to prevent Lowndes from sacking Jewell on this occasion, he dismissed him two days after Jewell tried to book paternity leave.

An employment tribunal ruled the real reason for the sacking was Jewell taking time off to care for the six-year-old child and his partner, and not for misconduct as his bosses had claimed.

Jewell was awarded £8,352.12 in compensation after winning a case of unfair dismissal.

The tribunal, held in Manchester, heard Jewell worked for Wigan-based packaging firm Stax Converting Limited as a machine operator on the factory floor from February 2018 until April 2019.

In October 2018, his partner had some health issues with her pregnancy and Jewell found out her next pre-booked appointment - which Jewell had booked off - would be brought forward by two days for an emergency appointment.

Employment Judge Jane Aspinall said: "This presented a child care problem as his partner ordinarily took the six-year-old child of the family to school. He also wanted to be able to support his partner at the appointment. This was their baby and an emergency scan."

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Craig Jewell was sacked from Stax Converting Ltd in Wigan. (Google)
Craig Jewell was sacked from Stax Converting Ltd in Wigan. (Google)

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The tribunal heard he made a request on a Friday, the day he found out about the appointment being moved, through an online system to take holiday on the Monday.

Later that day he approached his line manager Lowndes but he refused the leave and swore at Jewell, saying, "Can you f*** have Monday off", because he had not given one week’s notice.

Jewell told him it was for an emergency scan and asked if he could swap his pre-booked holiday but this was again refused.

The tribunal heard he tried several more times to book dependant leave, which did not require a week's notice, instead of annual leave on the online system, but he could not find the option for this.

He cancelled his holiday requests and instead sent another request, this time for unpaid leave, writing in the subject line: "Won’t be in for childcare reasons. Will take unpaid day for childcare." He received no response to this request.

When he returned to work he was invited to a disciplinary hearing for "failure to follow procedure with regards to holiday request", "unauthorised absence" and "insubordination".

In March 2019, Jewell applied for paternity leave for the following May and June. The next day, Lowndes started writing a letter dismissing him.

Judge Aspinall said: "The principal reason for the dismissal was the time he took off on Monday 8 October 2018 for dependant's leave. This... makes his dismissal automatically unfair.

"Lowndes had not liked the fact that he had started disciplinary proceedings against the claimant in October 2018 and they had been halted by Mr Hunt.

"I draw an inference from the timing of the dismissal... within 48 hours of [Jewell's] request for time off for an antenatal appointment and the booking of his paternity leave.

"I infer that allowing [Jewell] his statutory rights to time off was a problem for Lowndes.

"If the reason for dismissal had been misconduct then Mr Lowndes could have taken time to investigate and to comply with the disciplinary procedure by giving a verbal warning, then a first written warning, then a final written warning before moving to dismissal."

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