A mum who was sacked after her bosses refused to accommodate a change to her working hours on her return from maternity leave was indirectly sexually discriminated against and unfairly dismissed an Employment Tribunal has found.

The 30-year-old from Cheadle Hulme who was employed in a Cargo Operations Department, for a cargo services company at Manchester Airport, went on maternity leave in February 2011.

Before she went on leave she was working a rolling seven week shift pattern which involved working day and night shifts, sometimes starting as early as 6.30am.

A few months before she returned from maternity leave she asked her employers if her hours of work could be changed to accommodate childcare arrangements. Her husband also worked shifts and it was proving impossible to arrange childcare outside regular working hours.

The employer, refused to agree her request and insisted she return to her regular shift patterns. Despite an internal appeal against the decision and offering to be flexible, to job share or work part time her request was still turned down.

In the end she was sacked.

Following her sacking her trade union, Unite the Union advised her to pursue a case for indirect sex discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The Manchester Employment Tribunal upheld her claim saying that her employer had failed to be open minded despite her offering to be flexible and suggesting alternative ways of working.

The Unite member has since found alternative employment, but she said it was a relief to know the Tribunal agreed that she had been treated unfairly.

She said: “When I requested that my working hours be changed I didn’t think it would cause too many problems. I wanted to return to work and I could see ways in which, perhaps as a job share or by changing the shifts around, my employer could have got the job done. I felt like my bosses didn’t even consider the alternatives. It was their way or the high way.

“Unite was extremely supportive throughout and suggested I look into taking my case to Employment Tribunal. It’s a relief to know the Tribunal agrees I wasn’t being unreasonable and that I can now put all of this behind me.”

Helen Osgood, Woman’s Organiser, from Unite the Union added: “At a time that the Government is calling for flexibility in the labour market, this case highlights the very real barriers that women still face on returning to work, after maternity leave. A conscientious member of staff who was keen to come back to work, was coming up against a brick wall in terms of childcare outside of the traditional 9am to 5pm. Instead of listening to her concerns and supporting her to find a compromise the employer presented another brick wall, refused her offers to be as flexible as she could and ultimately sacked her.”