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Medical Practice Manager Wins Constructive Dismissal Tribunal.

BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

A former Practice Manager at a Medical Practice in North Wales has won a constructive dismissal claim against her employer after claiming she was being bullied.

Mrs Williams had worked at the practice just under 30 years and had been Practice Manager since 1996 until she resigned in 2015. Although she was well liked by her colleagues, when she was promoted to the managerial position many of the doctors at the clinic were not confident in her ability and believed her to be ‘over promoted’. She had been described as not being enthusiastic or proactive and on one occasion had overpaid an employee £12,000 and had never reclaimed the money.

Mrs Williams had a meeting regarding her performance in the summer or 2014 but was not offered any training or performance management at this time. Later in the year, an experienced practice manager was brought in to assist on a part-time basis.

In 2015 after an angry meeting with Dr Smits, one of the partners, who slammed his hand against the door in frustration, Mrs Williams went off sick. She returned several months later on a phased return but submitted a formal grievance to the partners outlining the behaviour of Dr Smits. She resigned two days after she received the outcome letter stating that trust and confidence had been lost.

The tribunal found Mrs Williams was constructively unfairly dismissed and the practice had failed to manage her performance for many years before she resigned. The Judge stated;

“The claimant’s performance could have been better but the respondents mismanaged and bullied her; despite this there were signs of improvement. She was not given a fair chance of improvement free from oppression and uncorroborated suspicion of misconduct.

It is important that if you have an employee you feel is underperforming, you deal with it in a swift and timely manner. Allowing issues to sit and fester can allow resentment to build which may lead to more issues further down the line. In the case of Mrs Williams earlier intervention would have assisted the employer in finding a fair reason for dismissal if they were unhappy about her performance.

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