Court Of Appeal Upholds Earlier Decision
An NHS worker whose bosses attempted to make her redundant whilst she was on holiday in Egypt has been awarded £400,000 after the Court of Appeal ruled in her favour in a long-running pension dispute.
Sandi Haywood had worked for the NHS for over 32 years and in her role of Associate Director of Business Development for Newcastle and North Tyneside Primary Care Trusts, was responsible for commissioning, delivering and developing community patient services.
Her early career included being a Nurse and Midwife, working as a Sister on the Children’s intensive Care Unit for 12 years. She then progressed and held a number of NHS Director posts across the North East of England.
Her case centred on the timing of her dismissal from the redundant role and whether the official date fell before or after her 50th birthday on 20 July 2011. The date is significant because it determines whether she would receive a higher pension.
Ms Haywood was informed at a meeting on 13 April 2011 that her role was at risk of redundancy following the merger of two NHS bodies. She accepted this but requested that a final decision about this should not be made in her absence and explained that she would be on holiday from 19 April 2011.
Ms Haywood was however written to by her employer on 20 April 2011 informing her that she was being made redundant. Although a letter was sent via recorded delivery to her home address and to her husband’s email account, neither were seen by Ms Haywood until she returned from holiday on the 27 April 2011.
The employer stated that the employees’ contract should have terminated 12 weeks after the communications were sent, but Ms Haywood claimed it should be 12 weeks from when the communications were read.
If she had opened the letter on or before 26 April 2011, the contract would have been terminated just before her 50th birthday and therefore reduced her pension significantly.
The original case ruled in favour of Ms Haywood and this ruling has been upheld by the Court of Appeal. Sandi has as a result received just under £400,000 in past and future losses.
Sandi Haywood said: “This has been an extremely distressing six year battle which has caused significant stress to me and my family and I am relieved that finally the Court of Appeal has rejected Newcastle Hospital’s case. The very sad thing about this case is that the Trust now have to pay significant legal costs for both parties and this should have been money spent on patient care.”
Jane Anderson, an Associate in the Commercial Litigation Department at Irwin Mitchell, represented Sandi Haywood in the case against Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust.
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Expert Opinion“The dispute is not to do with whether Sandi was made redundant unfairly, but about the timing of the communication in relation to her 12 weeks’ notice period and whether that fell before or after her 50th birthday.
“Sandi had not had the opportunity to read the letter informing her that her contract had been terminated until she returned from holiday and her husband didn’t read his email either until he was back in the UK. We are pleased the Court of Appeal has upheld the earlier judgment and ruled that the 12 weeks’ notice period should not start until she was informed and became fully aware of the situation.
“Sandi has been a loyal servant for the NHS for over 32 years and we are delighted with this outcome as it means that she will receive the pension that she deserves. It is also a significant case as it shows our commitment to represent private individuals on alternative funding arrangements against large organisations.”
Jane Anderson - Senior Associate Solicitor