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11.01.19

Tribunal finds manager was unfairly and constructively dismissed during trust merger

An employment tribunal has ruled that a hospital trust unfairly dismissed a senior manager during the restructuring of staff across three trusts.

Employment tribunal Judge Brown ruled that Mid Essex Hospitals Service NHS Trust constructively dismissed Carmel Connell, and that the claimant was effectively dismissed and was entitled to redundancy pay because none of the posts she was offered during a management restructure constituted suitable alternative employment.

During 2016 and 2017, the Mid Essex, Southend and Basildon Institute was created and the management teams of Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, Southend University Hospital FT, and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals FT were merged.

The judge concluded that the restructuring team at the Mid Essex trust “did act without reasonable or proper cause, in such a way as was calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between the claimant and respondent.”

Connell held the post of transformation manager at the trust from 2014 and later became the associate director of quality improvement, working to ensure the trust compiled with conditions placed after a CQC inspection in 2014.

The employment tribunal published last week said the trust had failed at the outset of the restructure and consultation process to establish Connell’s existing job duties and responsibilities, and that her lack of knowledge about her post was “bound to have alarmed the claimant and shaken her confidence in the respondent.”

Image credit - rajurahman85

Connell was then offered a job in the restructure which was band 8d, an effective £15,000 pay cut from her previous band 9 position.

The judgement stated: “Put simply, the alternative roles proposed were so lacking in detail that there was little evidence that they could constitute suitable alternative employment for the claimant.

“The claimant did not unreasonably refuse these roles, which were offered to her in extremely vague terms.”

Following the tribunal’s judgement, a remedy hearing will take place at a later date.

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