Woman Made Redundant Just 48 Hours After Company Found Out She Was Pregnant
Former manager Katie Creighton joined Optical Express in November 2019 after being headhunted from a high end jewellers, and says she 'completely turned the store around'.
Katie, 24, had helped the clinic become the 'second best in the region' and had been sent across the country for training, having had no performance issues.
However, when Katie informed her employer she was pregnant via email on June 12th, she received an email back from a senior member of staff congratulating her on June 15th - followed by an email laying her off two days later.
Katie, from Southampton, Hampshire, said: "I think it's purely because it's an inconvenience to have someone pregnant working for your company.
"[If] I had worked up to 15 weeks before my due date I would've been entitled to company maternity packages and I think they just didn't want to pay me in all honesty.
"I want people to understand what these big companies are doing. It's wrong.
"The more people I've spoken to they've said it's really wrong and I shouldn't just accept it.
"I need someone to listen and for them to acknowledge this. I'd completely turned the clinic around.
"I wanted to have a career alongside my first child but now it's put huge amounts of financial pressure on us. Children aren't cheap and to lose my job at the same time isn't great timing.
"The same woman who congratulated me on my pregnancy sent me the redundancy email too."
Even more shockingly, Katie claims the company are even hiring for roles in her area but have failed to respond to her HR queries.
Katie, along with the rest of her team, was furloughed in March following the government's coronavirus lockdown.
She explained: "We all went into lock down in March and off the back of that everyone was furloughed.
"My probation period was due to be up a week or two of us going into furlough. I thought I had nothing to worry about - since I'd joined my key performance indicators had been amazing.
"It got to the point where we were the second best in the region within a matter of weeks.
"I'd never had any performance issues or anything like that so I was really surprised when I received the blanket email that my probation was being extended because they couldn't track my progress.
"I had a week left - I couldn't understand how my performance over the last six months would affect the next week. It was a bit strange but I was forced to accept in order to go on furlough.
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"As a manager of the clinic I extended people's probation on the back of complaints for poor performance. No-one had performance managed me and my regional manager was very happy."
Katie continued: "A week later I found out I was pregnant quite early on. I wanted to wait until my 12-week scan before announcing it.
"I could afford to wait a few more weeks to make sure the pregnancy was viable and everything was okay. This was just before shops could start to open.
"Off the back I said 'I know the clinic's opening and just want to let you know that I'm pregnant. I'm due in December and wanted to ask a few questions about returning to work under government guidelines as they're different for pregnant people'.
"Someone from HR got back to me saying 'congratulations, we'll look into your questions. Send them through and we'll come back to you'.
"Around 48 hours after that I received a blanket redundancy email. Bearing in mind my clinic is now the second best performing clinic in the region.
"We're a big clinic and they decided that my role wasn't a viable role any longer."
While Katie was understandably devastated by the news, it's worth noting that it was part of a wider wave of redundancies by Optical Express across the country.
The mum-to-be added: "As soon as I joined the clinic it started performing really well so it was a shock.
"They didn't even step me down to do a lesser role. I would have accepted and at least I could have worked up to my maternity.
"But they said there's no way we can fit you into the company any longer.
"Optical Express have hundreds of clinics all around the country. They've other clinics that are only open one or two days a week that are keeping their managers and they've gone back to work.
"The people that are managing clinics that are only open once or twice a week have gone back to work."
Katie, who is due in December, claims Optical Express's HR department have now left her emails unanswered for two weeks.
"I was really shocked by the redundancy but the first thing I thought was 'no-one hires pregnant women even though they don't like to admit it'," says Katie.
"No-one's going to take on someone who's 20 weeks pregnant, is going to need maternity leave and needs training for a new role.
"When I went to apply for statutory maternity pay I'd missed out by six weeks and they could have legally left me on furlough until the end of July.
"They terminated my employment pretty much as soon as I got my redundancy.
"I've been trying to contact Optical Express as well because I can't claim statutory maternity pay. You can only claim that if you're employed 15 weeks up to your due date.
"HR have ignored all my emails and I'm getting radio silence from them."
Optical Express have been contacted for comment.
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media