Sacked social worker wins case against NSPCC

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John Power

A social worker who was sacked from his job at children’s
charity the NSPCC after he alerted Community Care to staff
concerns over restructuring and job losses at the organisation, has
won his claim for unfair dismissal, writes Derren
Hayes.
 

Central London employment tribunal ruled unanimously that the
NSPCC had acted improperly when sacking John Power last January. It
will set damages next week.

Power, a telephone counsellor on the child protection helpline
for 11 years, was suspended in November 2001 on charges of
breaching the trust and confidence of the NSPCC by forwarding
“confidential” information posted on its intranet chat site
regarding redundancies – an act the charity called gross
misconduct.

Power believed the views of staff should be more widely known in
the profession, and that he was entitled to do this as the British
Union of Social Work Employees’ representative at the
helpline.

The tribunal judgement says that Power acted “legitimately” and
“well within” the range of activities undertaken by trade union
representatives, and that the NSPCC had been “unduly
sensitive”.

“We do not believe it would cross the mind of a reasonable
employer to dismiss an employee for quoting his members’
views to the trade press,” it adds.

The tribunal ruled that the material on the chat site was not of
a confidential or personal nature, and that there was no evidence
of Power breaking any clear company rules on use of e-mail
information. Power has since found employment with Hertfordshire
council.

The NSPCC said it was “surprised and disappointed” with the
decision.

“We will look at whether we need to make the rules and
regulations regarding disclosure to external parties of the
information posted on our intranet site clearer to staff,” it
added.

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