A former hospital worker who was sacked from her job at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust for a concerted period of sickness absence has won her Employment Tribunal claim.
Ms Karen Marsha, a former senior pharmacy technician at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, started working for the NHS Trust in 1980, but was forced to take sick leave after a number of domestic problems, including being assaulted by her husband in 2010 and the breakdown of her marriage in 2012. As a result, she took 40 days off work with stress in 2010 and a further 127 days off work in 2012 with anxiety and depression. When she indicated that she could return to work in 2012 she was told by her line manager, Ms Janine Hey, that she could undertake a ‘phased’ return to her duties, but was summoned to a meeting 14 days later and told by a senior manager that she was being dismissed for capability reasons due to her period of sickness absence, with Ms Hey presenting the case for her dismissal. After being told she was being fired Ms Marsha made a claim for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal, with the case coming to the Manchester Employment Tribunal earlier this month.
Both Ms Marsha and other current and former employees of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust gave evidence at the Employment Tribunal. Ms Marsha’s representatives claimed that it was unfair for Ms Hey to inform Ms Marsha that she could enjoy a phased return to work but for the same person to later make the case for her dismissal. The Employment Tribunal, chaired by Employment Judge John Hewitt, therefore found that Ms Marsha had been unfairly dismissed. Compensation is yet to be awarded (a further remedies hearing will follow) but it has been reported that Ms Marsha is seeking her full loss of earnings since July 2012 – a sum which amounts to over £32,000.
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “It is important that when employers make the decision to dismiss an employee that the process undertaken is broadly fair – in this case the Employment Tribunal found that it was ‘incongruous’ for the same manager to inform the employee that she could undertake a phased return to work but then later present the case for her dismissal. A failure to carry out proper procedures can result in costly Employment Tribunal proceedings and, potentially, a substantial award of compensation.”
Redmans Solicitors are settlement agreement solicitors and unfair dismissal solicitors
Please note that Redmans were not in any way associated with this case and did not represent either of the parties