Consensus HR

Your outsourced HR department.

Postman wins £22,000 at Employment Tribunal (ET)

Published in Disciplinary & Grievance, Employment Law, General, Handbook, Investigations

This is a recent case that took place at an Employment Tribunal in Manchester on the 3rd – 6th April 2017 concerning a Worker who had requested flexible working back in 2012 to cover childcare, which had been agreed by their then Line Manager but his days were then altered in June 2016 without consulting him.

The former postman, Mr Adam Gregory who had worked for Royal Mail since 1993 was unfairly and constructively dismissed when he resigned over a dispute about his shift patterns and a tribunal has decided and awarded him a basic award of £10,577.00 and a compensatory award of £8,486.29 for unfair dismissal & £3,008.43 for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract. Totalling £22,000 – Employment Tribunals Judgment.

Royal Mail also had to pay costs of £4,012.50 and this does not include the cost of employing a Solicitor, which on average is £8,500 per case. (Telegraph – 27th August 2017).

Matthew from Consensus HR states “This case is a perfect example of a company making unilateral changes to a persons Contract of Employment without ensuring the correct consultation takes place with the employees involved. It also demonstrates that the preparation for this exercise was not properly prepared as an employees current Terms & Conditions should be reviewed fully prior to any proposed changes happening. Current variable agreed terms should be identified such as ‘Flexible Working’ & Royal Mail by not preparing & managing this adequately has resulted in this award.

Employers need to ensure it is carried out correctly and not in a way that could be seen as undermining the relationship of mutual trust & confidence between employer & employee.

We would also suggest that a record is kept of variations to contracts and that the employee has accepted them with a signature / date prior to any changes happening even if they are on holiday. If the whole team are going through proposed changes then regular meetings (Consultations) should be held with employees / representatives and adequate minutes taken of what is proposed / covered and who is present. Only when this has been achieved should you proceed to the next step”

An article by Hayley Kirton – People Management Magazine (30th August 2017) discusses the case further:

Mr A Gregory had a daughter from a former marriage and under an access agreement saw her at weekends. Because of this, in 2012, Gregory approached his then line manager to limit his working days to Monday through Friday. The line manager allowed this and Gregory signed a letter acknowledging the new working pattern, but his official employment contract was not changed.

In 2015, Royal Mail started a restructuring exercise, which was likely to change the way duties were carried out at the Burnley office, where Gregory worked. A questionnaire to determine employees’ working preferences was sent out. Gregory was on holiday at the time, so his union representative picked his preferences for him and selected a duty, which would require Gregory to work three Saturdays a month.

When Gregory returned from holiday and discovered what had happened, he objected and submitted a new flexible working request. One of the postman’s managers considered the new request but rejected it, claiming it was partly because the work could not be reorganised among staff. Gregory appealed the decision, but this was also rejected.

Shortly after the failed appeal, around September 2015, the postman took time off sick with stress. In April 2016, while he was still off sick, his solicitor sent Royal Mail a letter to raise a formal grievance on behalf of his client. Royal Mail then acknowledged that Gregory’s contract, as far working hours were concerned, had been altered in 2012.

Gregory returned to work in May 2016 under a phased return and not working Saturdays. However, after Royal Mail sent him a letter in June 2016 confirming he was to work three Saturdays a month, Gregory resigned. Although he initially claimed jobseeker’s allowance, he started working as a painter and decorator in January this year.

Allowing Gregory’s unfair dismissal claim, Judge Holmes said “it was not physically impossible for [Royal Mail] to maintain his Monday to Friday working pattern, it was merely unsatisfactory, inconvenient, and more costly”.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail accepted the findings of the employment tribunal and the judgment has been paid out to the former employee some time ago.”

I you wish to discuss your current Contracts of Employment and any proposal you wish have, please contact us by filling in our ‘Contact Form’ or telephoning us on 01462 621243 to discuss fully your proposals. We are here to help ensure you do not end up with any unwanted fees / awards.