News : Dundee Lawyer Expects Spate of HMRC Call Centre Staff Tribunals
Oct 31, 2013 -- An employment lawyer has warned that recent tribunals involving disabled staff at HMRC’s Dundee call centre are "the tip of the iceberg."
Ryan Russell, solicitor with Dundee law firm Muir Myles Laverty, who recently saw two of his clients awarded large sums of cash in cases against HMRC, says he has several more tribunal cases involving the agency’s call centre in the pipeline.
Mr Russell recently acted for Sara Pryde of Broughty Ferry, who was awarded money this month after being sacked by HMRC.
She said she was "disgusted" by her treatment at the hands of the government department, adding: "I suffered a considerable period of ill health as a result of how I was treated and even after being found at fault and heavily criticised in the tribunal findings, they have not even bothered to apologise."
Mr Russell said: "The objective of discrimination legislation is ultimately to protect and support disabled employees in the workplace, removing any disadvantage to the disabled employee.
"Over the past few years I have seen a worrying increase in the number of disabled employees who have been dismissed by HMRC.
"The people we’ve represented so far are just the tip of the iceberg as, rather than take supportive measures to help their most vulnerable employees, the reality is that they have been preying on the weak in order to reduce costs."
The PCS union says several more employment tribunals are in the offing and employees are in a "state of fear" over their jobs amid claims over discrimination.
The union claims HMRC has failed to take heed of criticism it received in two tribunals for disabled workers it had sacked.
An HMRC spokesman said: "HMRC is committed to implementing diversity principles and has a wide range of policies which support our disabled members of staff.
"Our approach to promoting disability equality and valuing diversity is all encompassing and focuses not just on the need to comply with legislation but also identifying best practice.
"HMRC has worked closely with departmental trade unions since the attendance management policies were introduced and is continuing to do so, taking account of feedback and lessons learned.
"We are aware of the recent tribunal decisions and of the recommendations. As for all cases of this kind, our starting point is to review the details of the case alongside the tribunal’s findings and recommendations.
"This will enable us to draw out the learning points and from that to identify if there are any changes which need to be made to policies or application of policies."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About H.M. Revenue & Customs (HMRC):
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) was formed on the 18 April 2005, following the merger of Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise Departments. HMRC ensures the correct tax is paid at the right time, whether this relates to payment of taxes received by the department or entitlement to benefits paid.
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013