Care worker loses unfair dismissal claim

A CARE worker has lost her battle to prove that she was unfairly sacked from a home in Bury St Edmunds following anonymous allegations against her.Kathryn Saffery was dismissed from Manson House after a disciplinary hearing found her guilty of sleeping while on night duty.

A CARE worker has lost her battle to prove that she was unfairly sacked from a home in Bury St Edmunds following anonymous allegations against her.

Kathryn Saffery was dismissed from Manson House after a disciplinary hearing found her guilty of sleeping while on night duty.

But she told an employment tribunal yesterday that she believed the real reason was a conspiracy resulting from her taking time off sick while pregnant with her second child.

After hearing evidence from both sides, the three-member tribunal panel rejected her claims of unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination and pregnancy-related dismissal.


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Mrs Saffery, of Lindisfarne Road, Bury St Edmunds had worked for four-and-a-half years for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

The charity, which provides residential care for 24 elderly people at the home in Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, strongly denied her claims after she was sacked for gross misconduct last November.

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When the tribunal opened, Mrs Saffery alleged that the only evidence produced against her at her disciplinary hearing had been copies of unsigned statements, allegedly made by other members of staff.

In those statements it was claimed that Mrs Saffery had often fallen sleep while on night duty, putting colleagues and residents in danger by not being available to answer their calls.

Mrs Saffery claimed colleagues had been pressurised into making statements which were untrue. She had taken her case to an appeal but her dismissal was upheld.

She told the tribunal: "I was very shocked as I had never slept on duty. I was always fully alert when there was work to be done."

Evidence had been fabricated by management as a result of her having to take three weeks off work when she became ill while pregnant, she alleged.

Mrs Saffery said: "I'm very distressed about the allegations made against me. I consider the company decided to dismiss me solely because I was pregnant and ill."

Senior care worker Pam Daniel said she had been aware of rumours about Mrs Saffery having fallen asleep but it was not until she was officially informed by a member of staff that she filed a report.

The result was an investigation by head of the home, Yvonne Bonas, which led to colleagues of Mrs Saffery being interviewed.

Mrs Bonas said it appeared that Mrs Saffery had on occasions been asleep for between three and four hours during her ten-and-a-half hour night shift.

Explaining why she had decided to dismiss Mrs Saffery for gross misconduct, Mrs Bonas said: "I have a duty for the safety of the residents of the home. I have to put them first and I had to act".

The names of five members of staff who made statements were not disclosed at their own request, she said, because of fears about possible reprisals.

Mrs Bonas said that several years earlier when an allegation was made against a member of staff at the home, some workers had been subjected to verbal threats.

Tony McMahon, chief executive of the Oxford-based charity said it dated from 1860 and provided care and support for farmers, farmworkers and their families nationwide.

Mr McMahon said staff who made statements and four other workers who had made verbal complaints about Mrs Saffery had all been very anxious not to have their names revealed which he had respected.

Rejecting Mrs Saffery's claims, tribunal chairman James Cole told her: "We hope that you won't let this be a millstone which you hang round your neck for the rest of your days. We hope you can put it behind you".

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