Age UK charity must pay £12k to unfairly dismissed employee

An employment tribunal ruled the man had been unfairly dismissed due to mistakes in a redundancy process, but rejected allegations he was dismissed for whistleblowing

Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees unfairly dismissed a worker after failing to carry out a redundancy process properly, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Employment tribunal judge David Jones ordered the charity to pay Mr Ghaffar, a former information and advice worker, £12,350 in compensation for unfairly dismissing him following an employment tribunal conducted in May, according to documents published this week.

But the judge ruled that the charity did not have to reinstate Ghaffar to his former role. 

Ghaffar had worked for the charity for 11 years when he was told in January 2018 that he would be made redundant after Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group announced it would not renew an annual grant worth £180,000, which, among other things, funded the equivalent of one member of Ghaffar’s team.

But, the tribunal found, managers tasked with allocating scores to the three people on Ghaffar’s team to establish which person should be made redundant had made a calculation error which resulted in Ghaffar performing much worse than his colleagues.

The court documents said: "Had the respondent adopted a fair procedure, there was an 80 per cent chance the claimant would have been retained in employment."

The tribunal ruled that Ghaffar had been unfairly dismissed because of the mistake – but it rejected his argument that he had been unfairly dismissed over whistleblowing disclosures that he had made.

Ghaffar claimed that his dismissal had come about in part because he had complained that Colin Cromack, the charity’s customer service executive, had been involved in the recruitment of his wife Susan Cromack to the role of insurance supervisor and the charity’s trading subsidiary.

But the tribunal ruled that although this information showed "poor recruitment practices, with risks of nepotism and favouritism", it did not suggest a crime had been committed, and so it was not considered a protected disclosure.

And, the judge ruled, there was no evidence to suggest the redundancy committee were aware that Ghaffar had made the complaint about Cromack.

A spokeswoman for Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees said: "We accept the outcome and are now reviewing the details of this case and taking expert advice to improve our HR processes to see what other learnings can be taken from it."

"We are pleased that the claims regarding whistle-blowing and discrimination were not upheld.

"Age UK Calderdale & Kirklees has a strong commitment to its whistleblowing policy and procedure and as such individuals are encouraged to raise concerns about any malpractice."

She said the charity did not tolerate discrimination of any kind and took any such allegations extremely seriously.

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