Do your contracts and policies protect you?

Do your contracts and policies protect you?

The Employment Appeal Tribunals (“EAT”) decision in the recent case of Basildon Academies v Amadi has provided an important reminder to schools of the need to have comprehensive policies in place.

Mr Amadi was employed by Basildon Academies (“Basildon”) to work two days per week as a cover supervisor. Without informing Basildon, Mr Amadi also accepted work at Richmond and Thames College (“the College”) on the days when he did not work for Basildon.

A few months after starting work at the College, Mr Amadi was suspended following an allegation of sexual assault made by a student of the College. Mr Amadi did not inform Basildon and they only found out when the police told them a few months after.

As soon as it found out, Basildon suspended Mr Amadi and commenced disciplinary proceedings on the basis that he had not informed them of his other job, or of the allegation of sexual misconduct. It held that both amounted to gross misconduct and dismissed him.

Mr Amadi was successful in claiming unfair dismissal, after the first Tribunal found that Basildon was not entitled to find that the failure to inform them of the allegation of sexual misconduct was gross misconduct. There was no policy or contractual provision requiring him to disclose such information. The Tribunal did reduce Mr Amadi’s compensation by 30% on the basis of his contributory conduct in failing to inform Basildon of his second job.

Basildon appealed, but the EAT dismissed the appeal. It agreed with the first Tribunal that there was no express contractual obligation on Mr Amadi to inform Basildon that an allegation of sexual assault had been made against him by a student at the College where he also worked. There was no express term or clear policy statement requiring such disclosure and it was not appropriate to imply a duty to disclose into the contract of employment.

It is unlikely that this situation will arise with a full-time member of staff, but schools should consider whether they are adequately protected in respect of their part-time staff who might also work elsewhere. It might be relevant that the allegation of sexual misconduct appeared to be fictitious and it is not clear whether the same decision would have been reached had Mr Amadi been found guilty of the allegation, since there would clearly be safeguarding implications in these circumstances.

However, it would certainly be worth providing for a similar situation in relevant contracts, so that your school can act robustly if necessary, by ensuring employees have an express duty to report any disciplinary sanction from any other employment which might be relevant to their employment with your school.