Store may owe cash to woman with learning difficulties previously paid in gift vouchers

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Karen Godfrey - WH Smith worker  
Karen Godfrey

A woman with learning difficulties who was paid in gift vouchers
for five years by a major high street newsagent could have a claim
for back pay, according to the Disability Rights Commission,
writes Alex Dobson.

Karen Godfrey worked at WH Smith in Monmouth, south Wales, for
six years, but just before Christmas was told that she would no
longer be able to work at the store because she was not covered by
the staff insurance scheme.

She begun working at the branch as part of a work placement
organised by Mencap in 1996, but when the scheme came to an   end
she was offered gift vouchers in return for the four hours per week
that she spent stacking shelves and doing light cleaning.

Monmouth MP Huw Edwards took up her case and condemned the
company’s actions in an early day motion in the House of
Commons. He also wrote to the Disability Rights Commission
complaining that Godfrey had been discriminated against.

Following his intervention, WH Smith offered Godfrey her job
back with full pay and conditions. They said in a statement that
the termination of her employment was a misunderstanding.

A spokesperson for the Disability Rights Commission said Godfrey
could take action to recover the pay that she should have received
in the past.

Mencap, which set up the work placement, said that Godfrey was
at first paid a wage, but when the store needed to make
redundancies, WH Smith had offered her the opportunity to stay in
the job and be paid in vouchers.

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