23 October 2015 #Employment
14 cleaners allege that they are being subjected to disciplinary action over a letter they sent to Philip Hammond (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) asking to discuss the Living Wage.
The cleaners, who are employed by private contractor were told that disciplinary proceedings were necessary as the letter ‘brought the contract into disrepute’.
Three of those who sent the letter have reportedly been made redundant and, whilst the contractor (and the Foreign Office) claim that these redundancies were entirely unrelated to the letter, the individuals concerned felt that they were being unfairly targeted.
This clearly throws up some concerning questions for the Government but also raises some interesting employment law issues.
Selecting an individual for redundancy for the above reason would be unfair on the basis that either the redundancy was not genuine or that objective and reasonable selection criteria were not applied making the process unfair.
Further, if an employer is seeking to dismiss an employee in the belief that the employee conduct’s bought the contract into disrepute, case law suggests that it will need to demonstrate that the contract is in serious jeopardy to have a chance at a fair dismissal.