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News June 2010 – Contractual Disciplinary Procedures!

The Dangers of Contractual Disciplinary Procedures!

In the recent employment case of Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a doctor was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct. In his contract of employment was a disciplinary procedure and such procedures can be contractual or non-contractual. The doctor argued that the contractual nature of the policy was binding on the employers who were required to follow it and they had failed to do so. The employers argued in return that the wage loss claim should be limited to three months which was the duration of the notice period. The Court rejected the employers’ arguments and instead calculated damages upon the basis that the disciplinary procedure should have been complied with. It would therefore have been much better for the employers to stipulate that the disciplinary procedure had no contractual force since the employers were ordered to pay compensation for loss of earnings during the contractual notice period and during the additional period during which he would have remained employed if the disciplinary procedure had been allowed to run its course.

Stephen Brookes

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