A manager at a GP practice was unfairly dismissed, even though she gave herself a pay rise to double the market rate for her role.
That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in a case involving Sareet Sidhu, who began working for Northolt Family Practice in February 2013. Her mother was the practice manager at the time.
The following year, Dr Sangeeta Rathor took over the practice and merged it with her own. The three women worked well together for several years before there was a “significant falling out” between June and October 2017. By that time, Sidhu was the practice manager and her mother was the business manager.
The court heard that Dr Rathor became “increasingly aware of the high levels of renumeration being paid”.
Sidhu had increased her hourly rate, paying herself an extra £2,000 per month without any authorisation or justification. Her mother had also withdrawn large amounts of cash on a monthly basis.
Rathor challenged Sidhu and her mother about the money during a meeting in October 2017. In the following days she suspended Sidhu pending an investigation.
Sidhu was invited to a meeting in the following days but did not attend.
The accountants then found that the practice had suffered a financial loss of £138,460 as a result of unauthorised transactions by Sidhu and her mother.
Sidhu was dismissed from her role and her appeal was rejected.
She took legal action and the Employment Tribunal found in her favour. It acknowledged that the financial controls within the practice were “lax in the extreme” and that Sidhu and her mother had in all likelihood taken advantage of the fact that Rathor was “extremely busy” with the clinical side of the practice.
However, the fact that the disciplinary procedure had not informed her of the charges which she faced and didn’t give her an opportunity to respond made it unlawful.
The tribunal awarded Sidhu £2,668 in unpaid wages.
In its summary, the tribunal added that had a fair disciplinary procedure been adopted, it would have been “inevitable that Sidhu would have been dismissed” for the unauthorised pay rises.
Sidhu’s mother’s claims are being heard separately.
If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of employment law please contact Joanne on 01228 516666.
by Joanne Stronach Head of Employment & HR