October 24, 2019

An ex-manager at a Shetland charity has won her case against unfair dismissal, breach of contract, and unlawfully deducted wages.

She fought her case for over a year and won compensation at an Employment Tribunal. 

Multiple Breaches Of Contract

The employee in question is Mary Gifford, who worked as a part-time manager/co-ordinator for the Shetland Care Attendant Scheme.

She’d been in the job since 2003 but left her post early in 2019 after a series of events that she believed breached her employment contract.

It started in May 2018, when Gifford found that another employee had been promoted to joint co-ordinator without any previous discussion.

In effect, this demoted Gifford and affected the amount of work she performed. As such, she filed a complaint stating that it was a breach of contract.

An internal grievance hearing was held in June 2018, but her employers dismissed her complaints.

After this, Gifford went on a two-week holiday before taking an extended period of sick leave due to stress.

The charity did continue to pay her full salary as they chose to follow the sickness and bereavement policy put in place by the council. They also claimed to send an e-mail arranging a fit-for-work assessment, but it was never sent or received.

Following this, they chose to reduce her pay to a statutory sick pay (SSP) in January of this year. Not only that, but they ruled it to be backdated to the start of December.

Gifford was appalled at this decision as she was, again, not notified of this decision, and saw no reason for it to be back paid. One more, she believed this was a breach of contract.

As a result, she felt forced to resign from her post. 

Judge Orders Charity To Pay Nearly £20,000

Naturally, Gifford pursued her claim and formed a case against the charity.

An Employment Tribunal hearing took place on 24 June 2019, where both sides were allowed to present their cases.

A decision was made in September, with Employment Judge Alexander Kemp ruling that they had to pay damages and compensation to Gifford. 

This was broken down as £7,185.55 in damages for unfair dismissal, £10,681.10 in compensation - which included £2,400 in lost contributions to the council’s pension scheme, and an extra £1,228,94 for unlawfully deducted wages. 

The Judge found that the charity made no attempt to reach an agreement with Gifford on the sharing of her job responsibilities when a new join-coordinator was hired.

He also said that nothing in her contract allowed them to demote her like this. Additionally, he criticised the charity for not consulting her again when her wages were deducted and changed to SSP.

As a result, the dismissal was unfair as she was forced into this situation by the acts of the organisation. 

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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