Dental practice manager wins constructive dismissal claim

The manager of a dental practice has won her claim for constructive dismissal after a tribunal found that she had not been given suitable training and support by her employers.

The issue arose when the manager was accused of failing to record sick days taken by a member of staff. She was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

She wanted one of the dentists to accompany her to the hearing but the employers refused because it was felt the dentist would support her rather than the practice. The hearing was then rescheduled and the manager was told she would not be paid if she failed to attend.

The manager felt intimidated and resigned following a period of sick leave. She then claimed constructive dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal ruled in her favour. It held that the employer had breached the implied terms of trust and confidence by its poor handling of the disciplinary process. It noted that the manager had been appointed without being given proper training or a working system for recording staff absences.

The tribunal held that a reasonable employer would have investigated the issues and realised that rather than being guilty of misconduct, the manager simply needed support and training. The employer had been wrong to refuse to allow a dentist to accompany her to the hearing and to tell her that her she would not be paid if she failed to attend.

The employer appealed but the manager’s claim for constructive dismissal was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. It held that her integrity had been challenged without giving her a proper opportunity to explain her position before disciplinary proceedings began.

Please contact Charles Goodbody in our Warminster office on 01985 214444, or email cgoodbody@mulaw.co.uk  if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.