A woman who tried to return from maternity leave only to be told her role ‘no longer existed’ meaning she had been sacked from work has been awarded a £23,000 payout by an employment tribunal.
Dr Katie Lidster, 38, was demoted from her position at the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) while caring for her second child, Daisy, who had been born two months premature.
Due to complications, Daisy had to be born by C-section and was cared for in hospital for 53 days as she was severely underweight.
Dr Lidster was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but had been seeing a counsellor and, seven months after the birth, felt ready to return to work.
But, during an 11 minute phone call, her line manager told her it would be ‘inappropriate’ for her to return in her former role. She was later told it no longer existed.
Instead, she was offered a four-day-a-week role with diminished responsibilities.
Five weeks later, a colleague sent her a copy of an advert for a job that was being advertised internally only for her to find out it was her company that advertised her role , which was eventually given to the person who had been covering for her during her maternity leave.
‘They had added one word to the job description and one responsibility, which I had been doing anyway,’ Dr Lidster, who lives in Devon but used to commute to London, told The Mirror.
She took the company she had worked in for seven years to court and won while being represented by her husband, a fellow scientist, because they couldn’t afford a barrister.
Dr Lidster resigned from UKRI in December and took her case to an employment tribunal in Bristol, where the organisation admitted culpability.
A judge ordered UKRI, which distributes funding for sciences on behalf of the Government, to pay £23,000 plus interest.
Dr Lidster told The Mirror: ‘I feel a great sense of relief it is over and a burden has been lifted.
‘It means I can now focus on spending quality time with my family, especially my girls and start to refocus my career.
‘At the time I didn’t realise how long the whole process would take. They had taken my career away from me so I had no option but to fight for justice.’
A UKRI spokesperson said: ‘We do not comment on individual employment matters. However, we have conceded liability in this case and we wish Dr Lidster well in the future.’