National News

UNISON wins payout for unfairly dismissed North West drug treatment staff


A group of workers supporting adults with addiction issues has won a six-figure settlement after their new employer left them jobless and without redundancy pay.

The seven were recently awarded nearly £178,000 in compensation after UNISON backed their case against Arch Initiatives. UNISON took Arch to an employment tribunal for refusing to take on the staff when their jobs were transferred from Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation trust (GMW).

Arch Initiatives claimed the employees’ contract was solely for managing addiction treatment patients, but the substance misuse workers roles and duties went beyond this. Therefore the company said it was not responsible for them.

But the employment tribunal ruled that Arch acted unfairly in dismissing the seven who were left out of work and with no redundancy pay.

Denise Holcroft, 41, was among those staff who lost their jobs. She had worked for GMW for more than three years but was forced to take lower paid work elsewhere and on less hours until she found a full-time role.

Denise said: “There’s never a good time to be told you’re out of a job, but this was so stressful. I couldn’t pay my bills and had to take what work I could just to cover my mortgage.”

UNISON North West spokesperson for health Amy Barringer said: “It’s daunting for staff being transferred to a new employer, and utterly destabilising for them when the process is handled incorrectly.

“Arch Initiatives refused to play by the rules, but UNISON ensured it was held accountable and staff were properly compensated. We’ll continue to challenge bosses who ignore the law. ”

Notes to editors:
– Arch Initiatives tendered for and won a contract in 2012 to oversee the management of addiction treatment patients. This followed a restructuring of the service by Bolton Council.
– Staff who transfer from one employer to another should be protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).
– Arch lost its appeal against the original tribunal decision and agreed to pay £177,530 compensation. The appeal was handled by UNISON’s legal department.
– Thompsons Solicitors was the law firm acting in the employment tribunal for workers belonging toUNISON.
– Denise Holcroft received £29,020 reflecting her loss of pay and pension benefits.
– Two staff in addition to the seven represented by UNISON also won their case against Arch Initiatives.