An award of more than £2.3 million has been made by an employment tribunal in the long-running Jhuti v Royal Mail whistleblowing case.

The tribunal’s latest remedy decision ultimately follows the Supreme Court decision in 2019 that Ms Jhuti had suffered detrimental treatment and been automatically unfairly dismissed by Royal Mail after she made various allegations of improper conduct by her line manager’s team.  

While Royal Mail have confirmed their intention to appeal the level of the award, the case is a cautionary tale for employers.

The pattern of detrimental treatment that followed Ms Jhuti’s allegations included bullying and harassment from a manager, the imposition of unjustified performance targets, and attempts to get Ms Jhuti to resign in exchange for a lump sum payment.

Further, Ms Jhuti’s grievance and appeal were not dealt with appropriately or in a timely fashion by Royal Mail, and she eventually went off sick before her employment ended in 2014.

The significant negative impact on Ms Jhuti’s mental health has left her unable to work over the last ten years, and the tribunal’s original remedy award reflected career long losses up to a retirement age of 67.

As compensation in an unfair dismissal whistleblowing claim is uncapped, a large proportion of the £2.3 million compensation reflects past and future loss of salary and pension benefits. However, the award also reflects detriment compensation, an unfair dismissal basic award, a 0.5% uplift to reflect a failure to follow the ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievances, and a further grossing-up award to reflect the tax payable.

Interestingly, the detriment compensation included a rare, aggravated damages award of £12,500 to reflect Royal Mail’s oppressive cross-examination of Ms Jhuti during the remedies hearing.

Whatever the outcome of future appeals, the negative publicity and financial implications of this lengthy litigation are a stark reminder of how easily things can go wrong. In contrast, effective whistleblowing processes provide reassurance to employees that “speaking up” will not jeopardise their job and allow concerns to be investigated and dealt with swiftly. 

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We have considerable experience of high-value whistleblowing claims, from both sides of the table. Should you require assistance with implementing whistleblowing procedures, investigating employee allegations, and/or bringing or defending whistleblowing claims, please get in touch.

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