Patrick Langmaid, director of Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park near Padstow, said he was saddened that two former employees, a husband and wife team, had brought a claim of constructive unfair dismissal against him. The claim collapsed at Exeter Employment Tribunal this week on the first day of the hearing.
Tracey and Phil Hulse were long-standing and valued members of the team at Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park for thirteen years until reports of abusive and bullying conduct using extremely offensive and discriminatory language against colleagues were brought to the attention of Mr Langmaid.
Mr Langmaid called the couple to a meeting to explain the gravity of the allegations and the range of possible outcomes, depending on whether facts were proven. At that meeting Mr Langmaid also offered the couple an opportunity to resign ahead of any disciplinary investigation, giving them some time to reflect on their situation.
At a second meeting the next day, the couple offered their resignation and left, even though it was the height of the tourism season, with around 2,500 visitors on site, and the park could ill afford to lose any employees. Several months later Mr and Mrs Hulse chose to make a claim for constructive unfair dismissal, alleging they had been unfairly forced out.
“They rewarded our kindness and fairness by making a claim for constructive unfair dismissal and that sword has hung over our necks for the last nine months,” said Patrick Langmaid. “As the first holiday park in the country to become an accredited Living Wage employer, looking after our staff at Mother Ivey’s Bay has always been our priority. I fought the claim, despite all the time, expense and trouble involved, because I knew it wasn’t right and that the correct procedures had been followed.”
Under cross examination in court, Mrs Hulse admitted that Mr Langmaid’s notes from their meetings were largely accurate. Mr Hulse did not give evidence and the claim was withdrawn.
Terry Falcao, from Stephens Scown LLP, who was representing Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park, said: “The changes in employment law permit ‘protected conversations’ which are a useful tool for employers to avoid protracted disputes and permit terminations of employment on mutually acceptable terms. They must however be carried out with care. In this case, Mr Langmaid’s approach and documentation were sound and that was recognised by the tribunal.”