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The ‘mummy track’

If you are bringing a claim against your employer for dismissing you, you will almost certainly be claiming compensation for lost earnings. Sometimes this will be very small – for example if you managed to find a better-paid job only a few weeks after you were dismissed. But sometimes there will be good reason to think that you have lost more than that. You may even think that the dismissal has done permanent damage to your career. You should tell the tribunal about the whole of your future loss: for more detail on this, see Push your luck.

Mothers of young children will often suffer the greatest losses. If you have lost a responsible and demanding job soon after having your first child, you may have real difficulty getting or keeping another job at the same level. This is because it is one thing winning the respect of an employer in a pressured environment as a single twenty-something who is able to work all hours, go drinking with colleagues in the evening, and be back at your desk at 7.30 am the next day. It is quite another pulling off the same trick through morning sickness, ante-natal appointments, maternity leave, unreliable child-minders, school hours, homework, childhood illnesses, and general parental knackeredness. If you have lost your job at this critical time of your life, you may find that you have been pushed onto a ‘mummy track’ that can affect the rest of your career.

The same may be true, of course (barring morning sickness), if you are the father of a young child – if you really do act, when push comes to shove, as if your child is as much your responsibility as its mother’s.

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