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Sacked UCU member wins right to return to work

29 July 2021

UCU is celebrating a decision by an employment tribunal ordering the University of Huddersfield to reinstate a senior lecturer, who it ruled was unfairly dismissed.

The tribunal ruled that Mr Jonathan Duxbury has won the right to return to work and should be reinstated by the university into his role as a senior lecturer in the department of accounting, finance and economics at the university.

The remedy judgment comes after a multi-year battle after the university unfairly required Mr Duxbury complete a PhD or face losing his job. This despite him having a professional qualification in accountancy and being a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. He enrolled for a PhD the following year but informed his employer of concerns that the heavy workload would not be possible alongside his work commitments, and that it would have a negative impact on his mental health, as he had suffered from stress. After several disciplinary hearings, the university sacked him.

UCU believed Mr Duxbury had been unfairly dismissed and instructed Thompsons Solicitors to begin legal proceedings. The employment tribunal agreed with UCU, and in a damning criticism the judge said the university had been "wholly unreasonable" and had adopted a "wholly closed mind" to Jonathan's "reasonable expectation that his health would be properly considered and the disciplinary approach be abandoned." The latest hearing has ordered 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.

UCU regional support official Max Beckmann said: 'This is an excellent result and the University of Huddersfield now needs to comply with the tribunal's remedy judgment and allow Mr Duxbury to resume his role. But we should never have had to spend the past seven years dragging the University of Huddersfield through internal procedures and the legal system. Had the university meaningfully engaged with our concerns back in 2014, we could have avoided this gruelling process, kept an outstanding senior lecturer in his job, and avoided unnecessary disruption to students. Huddersfield must not further sully its reputation by ignoring the tribunal's reinstatement order.'

Last updated: 29 July 2021