Parkins v SODEXHO Ltd (2002 IRLR 109)

A legal obligation that arises under an individual’s contract of employment is no different from any other form of legal obligation and a protected disclosure might be possible.

Case facts

Mr Parkins was employed by Sodexho Ltd until he was when he was summarily dismissed. The reason for his dismissal, he claimed, was that he had complained to Sodexho that there was no supervision on one of the sites where he worked. He said that, instead, he had to telephone his day supervisor to inform him when he left at the end of his shift and of any problems that he had encountered during the shift. He brought a claim before an employment tribunal arguing that Sodexho was legally obliged, under his contract of employment, to arrange for him to report directly to on-site supervisors and that the company’s failure to do so not only amounted to a breach of contract but also to a breach of ‘any legal obligation’ under the PIDA. Since he did not have the necessary one year’s service to claim unfair dismissal in the usual way his argument that he was covered by the PIDA was crucial.

Conclusion for me

The EAT held there is no reason to distinguish a legal obligation that arises under an individual’s contract of employment from any other form of legal obligation. He succeeded in claiming that he had made a protected disclosure in complaining about the respondent’s health and safety practices. The fact that Health & Safety was in public interest probably also supported this case.

Updated: 3rd May, 2021
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