Mum wins £13k after being sacked for leaving work to pick up sick kid from school

A TRAINEE accountant has been awarded £13,000 after she was sacked for leaving work to pick up her sick child from school.

Mum Catherine Henderson received a message from her child's school asking to come collect the student as they were ill and needed to be taken home.

With no managers available at the time, she informed colleagues she had to leave for an "emergency situation", an employment tribunal was told.

But bosses saw her early exit as "gross misconduct" and sent her a letter of dismissal – just four days after she had been signed off from work due to stress.

After successfully arguing she had been unfairly dismissed, Mrs Henderson has now won £13,080.55.

The hearing in Scotland was told Mrs Henderson began working as a trainee accountant for West Lothian-based firm, AccountsNet Ltd just five months before in October 2019.

The panel heard one of her children has an 'underlying health condition' and required medical attention as well as 'additional support and care'.

She had already informed her bosses of her child's condition in January 2020, when she told bosses she would be absent from work for three days to care for them.

Her first absence was recorded as 'compassionate leave' whilst the other two were taken as unpaid leave.

Mrs Henderson later agreed to a flexible working pattern with her line manager, where she would work from 9am until 3pm with no lunch break so that she could be home for when her child finished school.

Two months later, her bosses told Mrs Henderson that her hours were having a "detrimental effect on the business".

She insisted she was unable to commit to full-time hours due to child support.

It was after the meeting she was then informed by her child's school they needed to be collected.

As her bosses were in a meeting, she informed colleagues of the situation and told them she would call her practice manager, Charissa Gracie.

However, the panel heard that Mrs Henderson only sent Mrs Gracie a text, and stated the following day that she was the one who was ill – rather than herchild.

Mrs Gracie believed the incident, as well as Mrs Henderson's ongoing "absences", gave enough grounds to sack her from her £18,500 job.

The dismissal letter highlighted concerns Mrs Henderson was "not acting in good faith", and  judging her abrupt exit to collect her child without authorisation as "gross misconduct".

Mrs Henderson wrote to her employers to explain why she thought the dismissal was unfair, but was not given the right to appeal.

She later sued the company for unfair dismissal.

Employment Judge Eleanor Mannion ruled it had been necessary for Ms Henderson to take time off work. 

Mrs Henderson's claim for automatic unfair dismissal was successful, and her former employers were ordered to pay her for her loss of earnings and loss of statutory rights.

Another claim of unfair dismissal citing her requests for flexible working hours was dismissed.

It comes after an Estate agent won an £180,000 payout after her boss refused to let her leave to collect her child from nursey.

Alice Thompson wanted to work four days a week and finish at 5pm rather than 6pm when her childcare finished.

She worked at Manors estate agent in Marylebone, London.

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