IT project dispute for CEC and CWAC

A Former HR officer who accused Cheshire East Council of unfairly dismissing her after trying to raise concerns through the whistleblowing process has lost her employment tribunal case.

Sue Wallace, of Connah’s Quay, claimed the local authority dismissed her because she attempted to highlight a failure to pay the minimum wage to care staff and Tatton Park employees who had worked ‘sleep-in shifts’.

At the 10-day hearing last month, CEC said that Ms Wallace had left the council after her fixed-term contract had ended on December 31, 2016.

In a statement released today, CEC says that the tribunal reached a unanimous decision that all Ms Wallace’s claims had failed and have therefore been dismissed.

Kath O’Dwyer, acting chief executive at CEC, said: “We welcome the employment tribunal ruling.

“The council regrets that this matter could not be resolved prior to legal proceedings but, after full consideration of the circumstances, we felt that there was no alternative but to defend the allegations made.

“Staff are our most important asset and are essential for the effective delivery of council services. The council is committed to ensuring that all of our staff feel safe and able to raise any concerns they may have about work matters.

“We have a range of processes and procedures to support staff where they have concerns, including the council’s whistleblowing policy, which was reviewed earlier this year in partnership with the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work.”

Ms Wallace, who represented herself at the hearing at Manchester Employment Tribunal, accused CEC’s chief operating officer Peter Bates of dismissing her unfairly after becoming aware she had raised concerns about a national minimum wage breach through the whistleblowing process.

She also claimed she raised the matter with him at a meeting two weeks earlier – but the now-suspended Mr Bates denied all knowledge of Ms Wallace raising her concerns about ‘sleep-in shifts’.

He told the tribunal he believed Ms Wallace’s grievances were regarding a restructure in the HR department.

Mr Bates also suggested she had turned down both the offer of a permanent contract and an extension to her fixed-term contract – but Ms Wallace insisted she had not turned down the permanent offer.

The tribunal’s decision report has not yet been made available for the public.

Ms Wallace has been approached for comment.

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