NHS Nurse Was Bullied & Racially Harassed After Whistleblowing

A whistleblowing nurse recently brought her employers to an employment tribunal, seeking compensation for her suffering from stress related health problems due to being intimidated into resigning from her position.

The case dates back to when Ms Bernadette Rochford launched a whistleblowing case against the Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG); questioning the means by which NHS funding is sanctioned in regards to patient cases.

Ms Rochford made these claims once learning that no system exits to record the number of patients in receipt of financial help from the NHS. She noted this after she took on the position of Clinical Comm for Southwark PCT in April 2011.

Once Ms Rochford’s concerns came to light it became clear that the NHS was actually caring for some patients without reason. Shockingly this included ongoing financial support for patients who are now deceased. Based on her research Ms Rochford gave a “best guesstimate” that two thirds of deceased patients were still receiving financial aid.

Result of her whistleblowing

After speaking out Ms Rochford states that she became the target of bullying and racial harassment, which made her feel she had no choice but to resign from her position with Southwark CCG following a period of sick leave caused by her experiences.

During her sick leave, Ms Rochford was referred to fifteen separate councillors and health professionals, all of which agreed she was suffering serious stress related illness due to the treatment she experienced.

Ms Rochford’s claims of harassment and racial discrimination were initially dismissed at employment tribunal in October 2014; leading her to apply for a second hearing.

During her tribunal earlier this month, Ms Rochford claimed she felt like she was “walking on eggshells” at work due to the treatment from colleagues, and lambasted the lack of support she received from the NHS while complaining about the level of technical formalities required of her in order to demonstrate her feelings to NHS officials.

Defence against claims

Ms Rochford’s case was disputed by witness Alison Rayman, who worked with Ms Rochford as a HR consultant. Although Ms Rayman concurred that these claims had been slow in getting acknowledged, she believes much of the delay is due to Ms Rochford’s absence when on sick leave, as well as being due to the sheer number of people involved in the case

Ms Rochford’s claim of experiencing harassment and racial discrimination as a result of whisteblowing was rejected at an earlier tribunal in October 2014, causing her to request a second tribunal hearing this year.

Southwark CCG have disputed Ms Rochford’s statement that she received little support, stating that her grievances were “fully investigated at the time” and that “an independent investigation recognised that all issues were being addressed and effective systems were in place.”

This second tribunal in May 2015 lasted for five days and concluded before a decision could be made. The case will be now be reviewed on September 14th 2015.

Christian Nursery Worker Wins Tribunal Case Against Claims of Homophobia

A Christian nursery worker sacked by her employer for making negative comments about homosexuality and gay marriage has won an employment tribunal against her former employers for unfair dismissal.

In January 2014, Sarah Mbuyi, 31, was removed from her position at Newpark Childcare in Shepherd’s Bush, London on the grounds of gross misconduct. In this instance This followed Ms Mbuyi’s telling an openly gay colleague that her homosexual lifestyle and gay marriage act in contrast to the wishes of God.

The conversation begun after the colleague disputed the fact that she was refused the chance to marry her partner in a church ceremony due to Christian belief. Evoking EU laws on religious freedom, Ms Mbuyi’s employers made the decision dismiss her from her nursery position after receiving a complaint from the colleague

Ms Mbuyi, a Belgian citizen living in Tottenham, claims she was only responding to questions relating to the Christian stance on gay marriage and that she meant to no personal offence to the colleague who proposed these questions despite being aware of Ms Mbuyi’s beliefs and the related teachings of the bible.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) supported Ms Mbuyi throughout the tribunal, making claims that she was unfairly classed as having behaved in a discriminatory way due to her religious beliefs.

The tribunal verdict

The Watford tribunal ruled against the possibility that the managers at Newpark Childcare acted in a manner that discriminated against Christian views, but did consider that Ms Mbuyi was most likely dismissed from her job due to Newpark Childcare making “stereotypical assumptions about her beliefs”.

This was a sentiment supported by Ms Mbuyi, who agreed that it wasn’t a case of religious discrimination from her employer: She remarked “there were other Christians employed there, and there was never any campaign against them.”

The controversial ruling was justified by the tribunal on the grounds that censorship of Christian belief would cause a major impact on UK religious freedom, as a large amount of Christians hold the same views on homosexuality, and that many evangelical Christians actually believe their faith demands that they share such viewpoints.

Since the ruling a delighted Ms Mbuyi has spoken openly about the tribunal ruling and the support she has received in the process: “I only ever responded to questions that my colleague asked me […] I give glory to God for the decision and say ‘well done’ to the Christian Legal Centre. I hope that my previous employer and colleagues are well and will understand from this that my intention was for their best.”

Newpark Childcare have now defended their decision to dismiss Ms Mbuyi. Speaking to the Sunday Times,Tiffany Clutterbuck, a director of Newpark Childcare, asserts that the company was merely reacting in a way they deemed to be the most appropriate response to to the situation, claiming “We have robust policies and rules to ensure our nursery is inclusive and supportive for our children and staff, and we took the decision to dismiss Miss Mbuyi with a view to protecting that culture”.

What the Parliamentary Speech Means For Employment Law

The Queen’s parliamentary speech of May 2015 revealed a host of changes that the new Conservative government plan to put into action later this year under the guidance of Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Business.

Here is a low-down of the most significant proposed changes to be made to employment law.

Strike action laws

Striking actions are expected to soon require the approval of at least 50% of staff members who are eligible to protest over the issue being opposed.

Where a strike will affect the running of a public service, a number of additional challenges may also be implemented to prevent major disruption to both citizens’ lives and the country’s economy.

This will include public services like the health, transport, education and emergency service industries. Each of these industries will also require striking approval from at least 40% of its eligible union members.

A ban on agency workers?

Plans are also underway to put an end to the ban on employers hiring agency workers to fill the void in the workplace left when employees go on strike. This controversial decision has been defended by the new government with claims that it will supposedly “tackle the intimidation” felt by many workers who either choose not to strike or get cajoled into doing so by their peers.

There are also plans from the new government to reduce the amount of paid leave given to union representatives when undertaking union duties outside of working hours.

Zero hours contracts

Zero hours contracts have come under particular scrutiny, with the emphasis being placed on whether employees should be allowed to employ workers for exclusive employment with the business and without the possibility of contracted employment elsewhere. Bringing an end to the legislation allowing this was originally suggested in 2014 by the outgoing coalition government as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, which came into force on 2nd June 2015.

Altering zero hours contracts in this way has been welcomed by many workers, business owners and politicians, but has also been criticised by some legal representatives due to the an ill-defined criteria over what such a change will include.

This is due to a lack of clear legislation on how to prevent employers from deciding to reduce employee hours once they become aware a worker has a second job. There are also no set rules preventing an employer from then reducing or ending further working hours for that employee at their company.

Concern has also been expressed by some organisations over this lack of Zero Hour contract rules. The Unite union has expressed its worry that when workers are employed in more than one zero-hours position there will be no way to ensure that they can be sure of having at least one of their positions safe.

Furthermore, this new legislation will not guarantee a minimum number of working hours per week for employees, and that the generally negotiable nature of a zero-hours contract will be seized upon by employers hoping to adjust employment opportunities for workers.

Leave for paid volunteering

Another new area of legislation concerning employees of public sector businesses is that they will soon have the right to embark upon three days of paid volunteering work per year at the expense of their regular job should they wish to do so .

The chance to undertake voluntary work with a trade union is not allowed as part of this new right, but the opportunity to perform voluntary work for a political organisation is still being considered.

Gender pay law

One area of employment legislation that has finally been passed is that employers with a staff of 250 or more must now disclose the difference in pay between their male and female workers. The Conservatives refuted this idea when initially suggested by The Labour Party in 2010, but the Liberal Democrats finally granted it in what was ultimately one of their final acts as part of the coalition government earlier this year.