Jonathan Duxbury is aiming to return to work following an employment dispute.
A Yorkshire lecturer who won an employment tribunal earlier this year after it was judged he had been unfairly dismissed by the University of Huddersfield has been told in a hearing today [27 July 2021] that he can be reinstated to his old role.
Jonathan Duxbury was successful at Leeds Employment Tribunal on 29 April 2021, and now today’s hearing has ordered that he should return to his job rather than receive a fixed compensation pay out, which he feared would have left him significantly out of pocket.
The tribunal came after the 57-year-old, who was working as a senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics at the university, saw his mental health deteriorate after he was repeatedly urged to complete a time-consuming PhD course or lose his job – despite there being no justifiable reason for his employer’s actions.
After being sacked by the university, the tribunal agreed with the arguments of his union, the UCU, and social justice law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, concluding that he has been unfairly dismissed.
Reinstatement orders are rare –Thompsons Solicitors believe there are only around a dozen a year across the UK – and he hopes to be teaching again from September.
Mr Duxbury said: “The whole purpose of this claim was not to do with compensation – it was to go back to doing a job I love. The tribunal agreed I had done nothing wrong and had acted with integrity, so I am delighted to see that this has been echoed in their decision today.
“I’d like to personally thank my union and Thompsons Solicitors for their help, as well as the support I have had from various former colleagues and students in the department. I cannot stress how much they have helped me through such a tough period of my career.”
Although a reinstatement order has been granted, they are not legally enforceable and Iain Birrell, trade union law expert at Thompsons Solicitors, says that the university should be very wary of not following the Tribunal’s direction.
He said: “Reinstatement orders are very rare so we’re pleased with the outcome of the hearing – but there is still a risk that the university will seek to find excuses to avoid offering him the job he never should have lost if they are determined to do so.
“If they don’t reinstate Jonathan they will be in breach of the order and liable to pay him a fixed compensation amount alongside an additional six to 12 months’ pay. In addition, their poor faith can only go down badly with the rest of their staff who will wonder if they can be trusted.
“Sadly the additional compensation that could be awarded for refusing to reinstate is capped – and that cap was itself cut by the coalition government – which means the fixed amount of money he will get will not come close to covering what he would earn if he were allowed to continue working at the university as he wants and as the Tribunal has ordered.
“Even though there is no way to legally enforce reinstatement we hope that the university will recognise the Tribunal’s clear condemnation of their actions and not go down the road of throwing yet more money away - but instead do the right thing and welcome back a colleague who is keen to teach.”