Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Caring for My Poorly Toddler Cost Me My Job; Now Tribunal Rules Karen Was Unfairly Dismissed and Must Be Re-Instated

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Caring for My Poorly Toddler Cost Me My Job; Now Tribunal Rules Karen Was Unfairly Dismissed and Must Be Re-Instated

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE BLACKBURN

61, but she is now suffering from bowel cancer. A SINGLE mum-of-two with a seriously ill little girl was sacked from her job with Poundworld for refusing to work longer hours.

An unemployment tribunal ruled yesterday that Karen Atkins, 38, from Middlesbrough, was unfairly dismissed and ordered the company to reinstate her by the end of the month.

The hearing was told Karen only worked two days a week as a sales assistant at the Linthorpe Road store, in Middlesbrough, in order to care for her two-year-old, Holly.

Holly is being treated for a medical condition to her toes which means she must wear special shoes. She also suffers a food intolerance and bowel problems which make it difficult for her to gain weight.

She must visit hospital regularly and her mum cannot put her in a nursery. The only other person who cares for Holly is her grandma, Jennifer Atkins,

Karen was dismissed from her job of four and half years last November as the result of a "restructuring for business reasons", the tribunal was told.

Five 16-hour posts, including Karen's, were reduced to just one, which she applied for but was unsuccessful, leading her to be the only member of staff dismissed.

She told the tribunal she turned down the chance to go for 32 and 25-hour positions because two days was the most she could work while still being able to care for Holly.

Previously she had worked full time at the shop after being promoted to assistant manager, but after Holly was born in March 2007 Karen went on maternity leave.

She was then diagnosed with anti-natal depression and was unable to return to work for six months.

During this time Karen, of Netherfield Crescent, fell pregnant again, but suffered the tragedy of losing the baby son she was carrying after five-and-a half months. "I decided to try and go back to work and get on with my life," said the mum, who has an older daughter, Sophie, 10. …

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