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PCS activist Lee Rock back at work after winning reinstatement 19/09/2016

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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lee-rockLong-standing PCS activist, Lee Rock, who was sacked by the Department for Work and Pensions in February 2013, has returned to work following his reinstatement.

Lee, who has ongoing health conditions, was sacked 3 and a half years ago, after 27 years’ service for DWP and its predecessors, following a final written warning awarded because of his underlying health conditions. At the time of his dismissal for ‘unsatisfactory attendance’ Lee had taken only 1 sick day in the previous 6 months.

Lee, who works on the Social Fund Enquiry Line at Sheffield service centre, was supported throughout the internal process by PCS group executive committee member Ian Bartholomew and after exhausting internal DWP procedures, including unsuccessfully appealing both the initial referral to a decision maker and then his actual dismissal, an employment tribunal case was lodged, with the full support of PCS.

Thompsons Solicitors provided ongoing advice on the case and a barrister was engaged to present the case at a tribunal. Members who had worked alongside Lee at Sheffield Contact Centre also took official strike action in protest at his sacking.

We are clear that Lee would not have been dismissed for his level of sickness if he was not a well-known rep. He remained an elected officer of the DWP Sheffield Branch throughout his period of dismissal. Our concerns were supported by the fact that his trade union activity was unnecessarily and inappropriately referred to in the department’s recommendation for dismissal.

The tribunal claim was made on several grounds:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Disability discrimination
  • Discrimination on the grounds of trade union activity.

Unfairly dismissed

After a lengthy delay the tribunal found that Lee had been unfairly dismissed and they upheld, in part, the claim of disability discrimination. Although the union victimisation element of the claim was not upheld the judgement made comment that this aspect of the claim was “not without merit”.

Following its decision, the tribunal instructed both parties to make representation to a remedy hearing. The DWP made a formal offer of reinstatement to Lee, which he accepted. Reinstatement is rarely recommended by a tribunal, and only very infrequently offered by DWP. The fact that it has been offered in this case confirms our belief that DWP’s decision to sack Lee was wrong in the extreme.

He returned to his old job on the Social Fund Enquiry Line on Monday last week (5 September). Lee is also likely to receive compensation from DWP, but the full details of this are yet to be finalised.

This is a victory for all PCS members, and will be welcomed by members, not just in Sheffield, or DWP, but throughout our union.

For protection at work, join PCS.

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