A woman who was unfairly dismissed from Countrywide has won over £60,000. She had complained of a drop in staff morale, and her inability to lodge tenants’ deposits after Countrywide bought the firm she worked for.
Mrs A. Fletcher won her claim to have been constructively unfairly dismissed at an employment tribunal which looked into the case between July 26 and 28 last year. It had been contested by Countrywide, with evidence given by the then ‘retail director’ Michael Miller and Countrywide ‘people business partners’ Helen Broomhead and Betty Barnes.
At the tribunal, which examined no fewer than 460 pages, Mrs Fletcher represented herself, while Countrywide used a counsel, Mr A. Hodge.
Allegations that TUPE procedures had not been followed were rejected by the tribunal, although it did find that Mrs Fletcher had been constructively, and unfairly, dismissed following Countrywide’s purchase in December 2015 of Northampton independent Ashby Lowery, owned by Darren and Wendy Wilson.
Mrs Fletcher had worked there since November 2003 and at the time of the sale to Countrywide managed the lettings and property management team of about 12 people, and provided the admin management for about 24 others. She also dealt with tenants and landlords.
She had got on well with Mr Wilson and was his second in command.
After the sale, the tribunal noted a number of problems in applying the Countrywide offices processes to Ashby Lowery, including persistent issues over payment of staff and to suppliers, with invoices not being paid.
As a result, some suppliers put a stop on their dealings with Ashby Lowery, meaning that Mrs Fletcher was unable to obtain credit references for tenants or register deposits.
In April the following year, Ashby Lowery staff were erroneously given a pay rise, which was then taken away.
Mrs Fletcher became the recipient of staff complaints, with some of them “vociferous and negative” about their Countrywide experience.
Mrs Fletcher went on holiday in May 2016 and resigned during that time.
The tribunal last year found that at and immediately after the sale there had been virtually no meetings with Ashby Lowery staff by relevant Countrywide personnel, with no explanation of new office systems, no training, no induction and no written instructions or guidance. There had been a “massive drop of morale”, the tribunal found.
It added: “The claimant had loved her job for over 12 years. It was her life.”
The tribunal ruled that the claimant was constructively unfairly dismissed and ordered a remedy judgment.
The tribunal, at Cambridge, has now ordered Countrywide to pay her £60,242.
The decision, published yesterday along with the other documents, shows the payment is made up of £8,622 plus a year’s pay of £51,620.