Staffing manager unfairly dismissed for 'pointing out problems'

A logistics manager at a transport company was unfairly dismissed after he raised concerns about the lawfulness of the company’s staffing rotas and was then made redundant.

That was the ruling of the Employment Tribunal in a case involving Mr R Mott who began working for Secure Care in July 2018. The company provided transport for NHS patients with mental health problems.

Mott’s duties were to manage the control room, look after the vehicle fleet, resolve some of Secure Care’s operational issues and improve performance.

He quickly became concerned about the lack of staff available to cover the workload, and their level of knowledge of the regulatory environment in which they were operating.

Mott emailed one of the operational managers, copying in the firm’s HR manager and its then-CEO Fami Sanusi. He asserted that the current shift arrangements were “not possible” as staff would not have adequate rest breaks. He was concerned this would potentially place Secure Care in breach of the working time regulations.

The court heard that Sanusi had instructed Mott to inform a client that the business had enough staff available to cover an assignment when this was not the case. He said he told Sanusi: “I do not work like this.''

During the subsequent month, Mott made further inquiries and comments concerning the number of staff on shifts and the length of rest breaks.

After his staff numbers were reduced, Mott told his superiors: “In further cutting [the control room] establishment and with the numbers suggested, I do not believe I can meet the control room objectives set… or provide the service required to our staff and clients.”

A few months later Mott was made redundant, which he unsuccessfully appealed.

He brought a claim for unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act, as he had made protected disclosures about chronic staffing and operational problems within the business.

The tribunal found that out of the nine complaints made during Mott’s employment, two were in the public interest and one was a protected disclosure.

Judge Siddall explained that Mott had “made it clear” that staff and patient safety was a matter of real concern, and said his disclosures were made in the public interest.

She said: “Secure Care is engaged in work with highly vulnerable clients with serious mental health problems. Mott had concern not just for the safety of these patients during transportation but also for the staff dealing with them, who were required to work long hours and whose personal safety was sometimes jeopardised.”

The tribunal said that the compensation would be determined at a separate hearing.

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