A chef sacked for taking sick leave while recovering from an ectopic pregnancy in November 2019 has won £17,000 for unfair dismissal.

Hannah Pawley was dismissed from Hanley’s Restaurant, Driffield in Yorkshire, after taking three weeks off sick to recuperate. She claimed she felt “used and betrayed” by her employer. 

Head chef Sean Hanley denied her legal right to statutory sick time while she was not at work. According to Leeds Employment Tribunal

In addition, Hannah’s employer falsified documents to cover the fact that Hannah wasn’t receiving remuneration. She was unable to claim benefits for the pain of being fired without sick pay. 

After a legal battle lasting almost two years, Hannah was awarded £12,000 for injury to feelings and £5,000 for her sick pay and potential lost earnings earlier this month. 

The permanent closing of the restaurant took place in May. It was blamed on the ‘impact of coronavirus. 

Chef Hannah Pawley has been awarded £17,000 in compensation after she was sacked for taking sick leave from Hanley's Restaurant in Driffield, Yorkshire, while recovering from an ectopic pregnancy

Chef Hannah Pawley has been awarded £17,000 in compensation after she was sacked for taking sick leave from Hanley’s Restaurant in Driffield, Yorkshire, while recovering from an ectopic pregnancy

The restaurant, run by head chef Sean Hanley, refused to pay her the statutory sick leave to which she was legally entitled whilst she was off work, according to Leeds Employment Tribunal

According to Leeds Employment Tribunal, the restaurant’s head chef Sean Hanley refused to give her the legal sick leave she had while she was away from work.

Hannah had her baby in the meantime and began a home-delivery service.

“I demanded my money back and gave a reason why I was fired.

“As he could not provide one, I felt that I was forced to present my case to ACAS. [the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service]You can fight.

“Even when I was most vulnerable and broken, I believed I needed to stand up for gross wrongdoing.”

Hannah worked for Hanley’s Restaurant five months, and was a cook for four years before her firing.

In November 2019, however, her ectopic pregnancy was discovered. She needed to be on sick leave due to unwellness and she also had to endure strong medical treatments.

Hannah’s pregnancy-related illness was recognized as Hannah’s absence.

The law provided that she could take leave whenever necessary to ensure her continued employment.

Additionally, she informed her employer that she was pregnant by an ectopic baby and needed to rest.

Philip Lancaster, an Employment Judge, ruled Hannah had been ‘dismissed with no notice’ two weeks following her miscarriage. He also stated that it was for “a reason related to the pregnancy of the employee”. 

Hannah spoke after the decision and said that it was an ‘exhilarating’ feeling to finally be able to get justice.

“The relief of knowing that my treatment was not a failure has been tremendously healing,” she added.

“I wish this was not just a warning for employers, but also a huge plus for any women feeling wronged. You may feel it is wrong.

In November 2019, Hannah suffered an ectopic pregnancy and had to take sick leave as she was unwell and had to cope with strong medical treatment. Hannah's leave was certified as pregnancy-related sickness.

Hannah was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy in November 2019 and she had to go on sick leave. She also had to endure strong medical treatments. Hannah received a certificate certifying that she had ectopic pregnancy.

Taryn, from Pregnant Then Screwed charity, advised Hannah upon her sacking.

She explained that she heard of many women having to quit their job after a miscarriage at Pregnant Then screwed.

“Sadly, these women don’t use the law as a way to get the justice that they need because they lack the emotional energy.

Employers must do more to make sure their workplaces provide safe and fair environments for all employees.

“There’s a national discussion about the need for progressive policies in reproductive health and related policy.

“Cases like Hannah show how a lack protection or support can affect women’s careers and career paths.”

Hannah, who has since had a baby and started a homemade food delivery service, said: 'I felt used and betrayed by my employer Sean Hanley. I asked for my monies owed and a valid reason for firing me. 'As he couldn't provide one, I felt I had no other option but to fight, even at my most broken and vulnerable point.'

Hannah has had a child and set up a food delivery company. She said that she felt betrayed and used by Sean Hanley, her employer. I demanded my money owed as well as a reason why he fired me. “Although he didn’t give me one, I knew I couldn’t fight. Even at my weakest and most vulnerable moment.

Robinson stated that it was crucial that more women come forward when they feel they have been treated unfairly by their employers.

She explained that “Employers like Asos (Kelloggs), Monzo, John Lewis, Abel and Cole recently updated their reproductive health policies and introduced new ones.”

It’s high time companies followed their lead.

Hannah’s case is a reminder that no one has suffered the same fate as Hannah and that it’s possible to stand up for yourself.

Hanley’s Restaurant was unable to provide any comment on Thursday when I approached it.

You can call the PTS Helpline at 0161 223 9879 if you have any questions about pregnancy and maternity discrimination.