July 04, 2016

Breach of contractual disciplinary procedure may lead to significant loss of earnings claims

“…This case will be most relevant to those employers who currently have disciplinary procedures which are incorporated into their employees’ contracts of employment. Up until now, an employer who fails to follow the disciplinary procedure correctly would face claims for wrongful dismissal (i.e. breach of notice period), failure to follow disciplinary procedure (loss of salary over the period in which the disciplinary procedure should have been followed) and unfair dismissal (subject to the statutory cap). This case opens the door to possible claims for damages going far beyond the loss of earnings damages, which can currently be claimed for breach of contract on termination of employment. It should of course be remembered that Mr Edwards was not awarded damages to cover his losses in salary to retirement, but merely that the Court indicated that this may be a possibility, depending on the evidence provided. An employee in this position would of course be subject to the duty to mitigate his loss by finding suitable alternative employment, but for employees who are employed in an industry or occupation where there is in effect only one employer, such as the NHS, and where it may be impossible to obtain employment elsewhere once reputation has been damaged, this case should certainly be ringing alarm bells…”

In the meanwhile, we would argue that academia is indeed one of those professions where it is hard to find suitable alternative employment for once a case has become public the academic is more than likely never to be employed again in this profession.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The good news for us as academics is that despite having professional HR departments and spending millions on lawyers, colleges often make mistakes, and it is usually on matters of procedure that members win their cases. So it is always worthwhile to get a free opinion on how your case has been handled. It is a DAVID V GOLIATH business so it is always nice to hear that even despite this unequal law balance, the employer often screws up on small details of law!