Ms Saha worked in the accounts department for Capita. It was December when she wrote to her senior manager explaining that she was not prepared to work extended hours in January to accommodate year-end work. She explained it was it was “detrimental to my health” and “against the working time regulations which means the right to one day off a week”. Her  complaint was made against deteriorating relations with her manager.

Three days later, Ms Saha was offered a package to leave. She turned it down, writing another email stating that the offer amounted to bribery and blackmail. She was then dismissed – the employer citing a breakdown in the working relationship.

She brought a proceedings in an Employment Tribunal for ordinary and automatic unfair dismissal – claiming  on her two emails were ‘protected disclosures’ for the purposes of her whistleblowing complaint.

The Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair but did not uphold the whistleblowing claim:

  • her first email was an allegation that health and safety was being endangered. However, this was not a protected disclosure because it was decided she did not have a reasonable belief that her health had been or was likely to be endangered.
  • Her second email was not a protected disclosure either, because although it referred to bribery and blackmail, it was decided she did not have a reasonable belief that a criminal offence had been committed, nor was the complaint about blackmail made in the public interest.

Ms Saha appealed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld her appeal in relation to the first email – the allegation was that there was going to be a breach of a legal obligation, which was obviously capable of being a protected disclosure, and Ms Saha had raised this point in her claim form.

However, it had reached the correct decision in relation to the second email. Although an employee can reasonably believe that a criminal offence has been committed, even if that belief is incorrect, the termination package was “so far from blackmail” that the tribunal was fully entitled to find that Ms Saha’s belief was not reasonable.

The Tribunal would have to reconsider the whistleblowing complaint.

Saha v Capita plc

 

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