A hairdresser has failed in a bid to force her former employer to pay her wages for the time she was in prison.

Kelly Atkins was jailed for two years in December 2011 and Miss Atkins’ civil claim against her former employer, Hair by Loretta, was rejected at an employment tribunal after she failed to turn up for the hearing, despite staff trying to contact her.

Atkins had demanded £7,000 in back-pay for the nine months she served in prison, but her claims of constructive dismissal were thrown out by Chairman Victoria Wallace at Ashford Employment Tribunal.

Both Miss Atkins and her ex-boss said that Atkins had taken annual leave to attend her trial in December 2011 in written statements to the tribunal, and in other documents submitted, Miss Atkins claimed that her employer made assurances her job was safe before she was convicted.

In her statement, Miss Atkins said of her ex-boss:

“She said no matter what happens I will always have my job.

“I came home on 27 June 2012, and rang Mrs McDonald to ask if I could come back to work and the reply to that was ‘no’.”

However, Mrs McDonald said there was no agreement to keep a job open and that her business was stigmatised by her worker’s conviction.

In a written statement, she told the tribunal:

“The case became national news and was featured on radio, television, newspapers and on the internet.

“Of course, this became a problem for me. Her regular customers deserted the salon.”

Following the hearing, David McDonald, who owns the salon with his wife, said:

“It made us feel absolutely sick. We have gone through absolute hell for the last three months and we’re not healthy people.”

Chairman Victoria Wallace also ruled out an adjournment, saying:

“It seems to me it’s not sensible that we could really sensibly look at it without both parties being here.”