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Zimbabwean Health Worker Awarded £25,000 After She Was Sacked For Being Pregnant In UK

A healthcare worker who was sacked by her employers just days after arriving in the UK because she was pregnant has been awarded more than £25,000.

When Felicity Khupe left Zimbabwe for Britain last year while pregnant with her second child thanks to sponsorship from a UK company, she had aspirations of “becoming a better version of herself.”

She hadn’t told them at the time, however, and when the 30-year-old confessed on her second day in the nation that she was six months along, her bosses informed her that this made things “a bit tricky,” according to evidence presented at an employment tribunal.

Higher-ups reportedly said they would revoke her sponsorship and instructed her to return to Zimbabwe “as soon as possible”; Mrs. Khupe was likely going to do so in August.

After successfully challenging Comforting Hands Recruitment for maternity discrimination and unjust termination, Mrs. Khupe has now received compensation. The tribunal found that she “missed out on the excitement of being a mother” and now “lives in fear of being deported.”

Read Also: Pregnant Zimbabwean Nurse Stabile Sibanda Bleeds To Death In UK As Ambulance Delays

The organisation, which has its headquarters in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, educates staff for deployment to nursing and residential homes throughout Yorkshire, East Riding, and the North East.

It boasts being a supplier of “talented” nurses, care assistants, and support staff to the private, public, and community sectors on its website.

The tribunal, held in Leeds, heard Mrs Khupe arrived in the city from Zimbabwe on Friday, July 1, last year and the company had ‘promised’ to provide her with accommodation for her first two months in the country.

She arrived with five other women and each was given her own room in a house.

However, after mandatory training over the weekend, the women were required to fill in a health questionnaire, where bosses discovered Mrs Khupe to be six months pregnant.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, she said: ‘I said ‘yes I am six months pregnant’ and that’s when [the care coordinator] said it was a bit tricky and she needed to talk to the director about it.’

The director visited Mrs Khupe the next day, telling her that ‘unfortunately’ because of her pregnancy she could not continue working there.

Mrs Khupe told the hearing: ‘[She told me] she was cancelling her Course of Sponsorship so I have to go to back to Zimbabwe and I have to do it as soon as possible as I would be given 30 days by the Home Office after which my visa would be cancelled.’

The tribunal heard Mrs Khupe left company accommodation the following Saturday, just one week after arriving from Zimbabwe.

She said she would have taken six months unpaid maternity leave if she had been able to keep her job, from October 2022 until April this year.

However, on May 25, she was told by the Home Office she could only stay in the country legally for another 60 days unless she finds other work.

Mrs Khupe will have to return to Zimbabwe by August 10, it was heard.

Employment Judge Sophie Buckley said: ‘Mrs Khupe lost a job for which she had travelled from Africa with hopes of becoming what she termed “a better version of herself”.

‘The treatment by [her employers] led to her feeling isolated. She has lost her confidence.

‘She is living with her mother and has no social life.

‘She missed out on the excitement of becoming a new mother – she has been living in fear of being deported.

‘She knows that she will will probably have to go home, and she feels that her hopes of becoming a better version of herself in a first world country have collapsed.

‘I find that it is very difficult for her to find work because she needs an employer to provide her with sponsorship and employers are extremely unlikely to sponsor individuals already in the United Kingdom unless they already have at least six months experience working with the employer who brought them here.

‘Mrs Khupe states that she will not find work at home – that is the reason why she came to the United Kingdom.

‘She thinks that she will not return to the United Kingdom.’

Mrs Khupe was awarded £10,000 compensation for injury to feelings as well as £14,790 for loss of past and future earnings.

Including interest, Mrs Khupe’s total compensation awarded was £25,810.

Speaking after the ruling about winning her claims, Mrs Khupe said: ‘It was really exciting.

‘But I was really relieved as well.

‘The whole situation made me feel like I was wrong to come to this country for a job while I was pregnant.

‘So, it was a relief to know nothing was wrong with me.’

Mrs Khupe, who is married and has another eight year old son, gave birth to healthy baby Nhlanhla Dlamini in October last year.-Daily Mail

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