Locum doctor’s unfair dismissal claim upheld
Dr Drzymala worked for Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust (‘Trust’) on six successive fixed-term contracts (with each fixed term contract lasting six months), has won her unfair dismissal claim for the Trust not renewing her fixed term contract. See here and here for more information on unfair dismissal claims.
In around April 2014, Dr Drzymala applied for a permanent post. 20 minutes after the interview, she was told that she was unsuccessful and that the other candidate had been selected. The Trust discussed that there may be future roles as a speciality doctor, however this was a lower-ranking post than Dr Drzymala’s Locum Consultant post. On 23 June 2014, the Trust gave notice that her employment would end, as the Trust chose not to extend her latest fixed-term contract.
Dr Drzymala wrote a formal grievance, which included an appeal against dismissal. By the time she left on 30 September 2014, the grievance process had not concluded.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) upheld the Employment Tribunal’s finding of unfair dismissal. The Trust’s mistakes in this case was not to properly discuss the possibility of alternative employment and not giving Dr Drzymala the right of appeal against the non-renewal of her fixed-term contract.
This case illustrates that employers must be aware that, in the case of employees with at least 2 years’ service, the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract counts as a ‘dismissal’ for the purposes of unfair dismissal.
Therefore with these employees, employers must ensure that the reason for not renewing is a ‘fair’ reason and is ‘reasonable’ (reasonable in relation to the ‘procedure’, and the ‘decision’). In this case, the Trust clearly failed on procedural grounds, which led to the EAT upholding Dr Drzymala’s unfair dismissal claim.
By Zahid Reza