Jersey Hospice Care has been ordered to pay over £23,000 in compensation to a children's doctor it unfairly dismissed.
The direction came from the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal, which found that the charity had also made unfair salary deductions from Paediatric Doctor Natalie Kemp and had kept "contradictory and incomplete" records on the matter.
Dr Kemp had worked for Jersey Hospice Care from August 2017 to September 2019 as Clinical Lead for Children and Young People to help develop its services for children.
In October 2019, she filed a complaint with the Employment Tribunal, claiming she had been unfairly dismissed and the charity had breached her contract by deducting £9,675 for training fees from her final salary.
Pictured: Dr Natalie Kemp was appointed Clinical Lead for Children and Young People in August 2017. (Glen Perotte)
The case was heard by Michael Salter, the Deputy Chair of the Employment Tribunal, on 30 June.
The Tribunal heard that Dr Kemp had joined the charity in August 2017 after applying for a staff grade doctor role. While she was unsuccessful due to her previous experience, she was recruited into another role for which she had to undertake a two-year masters in Palliative Care at Kings College.
It was the fees for this course that formed the basis of the breach of contract claim.
In August 2019, Dr Kemp discussed her role with her employer. She said she left the meeting feeling that their respective future plans were “no longer aligned”, owing to what she described as a “deteriorating relationship” between Hospice and Family and Nursing Home Care with whom she worked.
Pictured: Dr Kemp filed a complaint with the Employment Tribunal in October 2019.
Two weeks later, in a meeting with Debbie Patrick, Head of People for Jersey Hospice Care, Dr Kemp said she felt her role was “redundant”. Ms Patrick, who admitted she did not have sufficient understanding of the clinical side of the business, said she would have to make enquires to confirm whether that was the case.
Dr Kemp said she didn’t discuss her departure during that meeting and rejected references to “mutual partings of the ways” made by Ms Patrick in her minutes.
At a second meeting in early September, Dr Kemp said she was “confronted” by Ms Patrick holding a letter terminating her employment, saying she was asked “is this what you still want”.
Ms Patrick admitted she attended the meeting with a draft compromise agreement but claimed this was because Dr Kemp had mentioned leaving during the previous meeting. Dr Kemp refused to sign the agreement.
Pictured: Dr Kemp claimed she was unfairly dismissed by the charity.
Mr Slater noted in his judgment that the notes kept by Jersey Hospice were not made at the time but weeks after the event, while Dr Kemp had been “clear in her recollection of what was discussed at what meetings”.
He also noted that Jersey Hospice hadn’t asked Dr Kemp to work her notice period but also paid her in lieu of that notice. “I consider that payments in lieu of notice are made when it is the employer who is dismissing and does not want the employee to come into work, or be on garden leave,” he wrote.
On balance, he concluded that Dr Kemp had been dismissed and, with the admission from the charity that it didn’t have “a fair reason” for the dismissal and hadn’t followed any sort of process, that it had been unfair.
Turning to the training fees, Mr Salter said the paperwork kept by the charity was “a very unsatisfactory state”. “It is contradictory, incomplete and has substantial gaps in it for [Jersey Hospice Care] to be able to enforce the right to make deductions from [Dr Kemp]’s salary,” he added.
Dr Kemp’s contract, which she signed in November that year and was described as the “entire agreement”, stipulated that no deductions would be made to her salary, except those required by law, without her “express written consent”.
Pictured: Mr Salter said the paperwork kept by the charity was “a very unsatisfactory state”.
Meanwhile, the charity referred to a separate Staff Handbook from 2014 which had contractual effect but was not referred to in the contract or incorporated into it. They also referred to a Training Policy introduced in November 2018 which required a signed form of agreement for the repayment of fees, something which was never obtained from Dr Kemp.
Mr Slater concluded the hospice had failed to show it had power to make deductions from its former employee’s salary, noting that the “operative terms” were those in Dr Kemp’s contract, meaning the charity would have to seek Dr Kemp’s consent to make any withdrawals, which it didn’t.
He therefore described the deductions has a breach of the contract of employment.
As a result, he ordered Jersey Hospice Care to pay Dr Kemp £13,691 as compensation for unfair dismissal as well as £9,675 for the “unlawful deduction from wages."
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