Employers Attempts to Sack a Doctor by Agreement
Doctors and Settlement Discussions with Employers
Employers and employees can rely on s.111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to hold discussions where there is an issue relating to a doctor’s continuing employment and the employment has not yet ended.
The pre-termination negotiations could be said to be similar to ‘without prejudice’ correspondence or oral discussions and cannot be relied upon at an Employment Tribunal (ET) – as they are deemed to be inadmissible as a matter of law, save for in certain circumstances. The section of the 10996 Act will apply as set out in subsection 2, as follows:
(2) In subsection (1) “ pre-termination negotiations ” means any offer made or discussions held, before the termination of the employment in question, with a view to it being terminated on terms agreed between the employer and the employee.
To rely on these protections, there must be a pre-existing issue of dispute between the employer and the employed doctor. Such discussions will often take place when the continuing employment of the doctor is unlikely. This might be due to a breakdown in relations, due to police disclosure, or some other material-event that means that the ongoing employment is likely to come to an end.
To avoid protracted and costly disputes, this section of the Act can be relied upon. Correspondence and discussions to be covered by this should be set out in clear terms to avoid any misunderstandings. A doctor should be careful not to make any admissions that could harm their position.
It should be noted that even where a negotiated settlement prior to the termination of employment is reached, it would be wrong to seek to exclude a referral to the General Medical Council (GMC) by the employer, as that would likely be contrary to public policy and therefore unenforceable. It could also be viewed as misconduct as a doctor.
Doctor Defence Service can advise doctors in relation to employment law matters and disputes with employers. Contact us without obligation, and in strict confidence, on 0800 10 88 739