Obituary: Karen Tarling

“She was a well-liked and respected colleague and will be incredibly missed”

EM Karen Tarling
OT is sad to report the death of AOP employment solicitor, Karen Tarling, who died unexpectedly following a short illness in May.

Karen joined the AOP in April 2019 having amassed a wealth of experience across a wide range of sectors, including private practice, in-house, charity, and local authority.

As a highly respected employment lawyer, prior to joining the AOP Karen worked as a lawyer at The Nursing and Midwifery Council and as an employment adviser for the Royal Bank of Scotland. She also had experience as a group legal adviser at the Countrywide Assured Group and as a senior barrister for Essex County Council.

Having originally qualified as a barrister in 1991, Karen later transferred her skills and became a solicitor in 2002, spending 15 years of her career specialising in employment law. During this time, she represented both employees and employers, and undertook her own advocacy in employment tribunals.

Throughout her time at the AOP, Karen specialised in drafting and advising on contracts and HR policies, discrimination, dismissal, redundancy, equal pay, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, and settlement agreements. During the pandemic she was on-hand and responded quickly to advise members on furlough and COVID-19-related matters.

Excelling in her role at the AOP, in November 2020 she was promoted to interim head of employment, a position she held for 12 months as maternity cover.

Speaking about Karen, AOP director of legal and regulatory, Ella Franci, told OT: “Karen was known for her succinct, practical and helpful advice for members, with many choosing to return to her again and again, or asking for her by name. She was also very focused on making sure that advice was as accessible for members as possible, and, in particular, had a keen focus on keeping the website up to date.”

Reflecting on Karen as a colleague, Franci added: “She was a well-liked and respected colleague and will be incredibly missed by the employment team, the wider legal and regulatory department, and the AOP.”

Head of employment at the AOP, Liz Stephenson, shared: “Karen was a very knowledgeable and talented lawyer. She was caring, super-efficient, and full of good ideas about how to improve the employment service. I know so many members were very grateful to have her supporting them, and the outpouring of praise for her has been unsurprising but still overwhelming. She was an adventurous person who lived life to the full and cared so much for her family and her dogs. We in the employment team will miss her hugely.”

Remembering Karen, one AOP member who she supported shared: “In one of the worst and most stressful times of my life, she was such a reassurance to me… She was so helpful and caring, I will always be indebted and thankful to her for getting me out of a situation and continuing her help after.”

Another added: “Karen was absolutely wonderful. She always made me feel at ease with my stressful work situation and ensured that I understood I was protected. She would read over my drafts and respond rapidly. She was a great listener and sympathetic towards my situation. She will be greatly missed.”

Another member reflected: “Karen was always happy and able to help with any issues we came across and always gave good advice and support. Our thoughts go to her family at this sad time.”

If Karen supported you through a case and you would like to share your experiences, please do so in our comments functionality below. Alternatively, if you would like to remember Karen privately and are happy for your thoughts to be shared with her family, please do so by emailing [email protected]