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PSNI officer gets £11,250 settlement after discrimination when she returned from maternity leave with disability

By Deborah McAleese

Published 24/09/2015

As part of a settlement, without the admission of liability, the officer was awarded £11,250 by the PSNI
As part of a settlement, without the admission of liability, the officer was awarded £11,250 by the PSNI

A female police officer has received compensation from the PSNI after she was allegedly subjected to disability and sex discrimination at work.

The officer, with the help of the Equality Commission, took a case against the police service as a result of her treatment following her return to work from maternity leave and a period of sick leave due to a pregnancy-related disability.

As part of a settlement, without the admission of liability, the officer was awarded £11,250 by the PSNI.

The officer returned to work in April 2014 following her maternity and sickness.

She was placed on restricted duties and called to appear before an all-male attendance management panel, which delivered an informal warning for unsustainable absence.

The officer appealed against the finding, but five months later a second panel, which this time was gender-mixed, also concluded that her attendance was unsatisfactory and issued an informal note of concern.

This note of concern was to remain live for a two-year period, which limited the officer's options in relation to applying for promotion or specialist appointments within the force.

Following the case the PSNI has now expunged the note of concern from her personnel record, granted full mitigation for the relevant period of her absence, and adjusted her records and her duties to take account of her disability, the Equality Commission has said.

The officer said it had been an "extremely difficult and stressful time" and that the way she was treated when she returned to work "made it much worse".

"I am pleased that the PSNI has acknowledged the effect this had on me and has now acted to restore my position within the service. I hope that this will lead to other officers who are faced with such difficulties being treated better by the organisation in future," she added.

Eileen Lavery of the Equality Commission said that the PSNI, like all employers, had a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for employees who have a disability.

"Coping with ill health immediately after the birth of a child can be a very difficult experience and it is important that employers make all necessary arrangements to enable a returning member of staff to resume her duties and career," Ms Lavery said.

The PSNI has had a meeting with the Equality Commission to review its policies, practices and procedures.

A review is also being carried out by the PSNI of its attendance management guidance.

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