Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, is at the centre of another row after allegations that she bullied an employee in a series of voicemail messages.
This follows recent controversy over claims that the MP fabricated a supposed death threat in an email message that she had received from an anti-war protester.
Arianne Plumbley was employed on a temporary contract in the MP’s office and was signed off sick. She has released to the media a series of voicemail messages which she says she received from Ms Allan during her sickness.
The messages appear to show the MP becoming increasingly irate about what she perceives as being messed about (a somewhat more colourful phrase is used) by Ms Plumbley and by the employee’s alleged failure to contact her about her absences.
There are also comments to the effect that the illness is not genuine and innuendos that the employee may have stolen a computer and/or had a drink problem.
Ms Plumbley complains that she was bullied while the MP says that she was dismissed for gross misconduct.
As she had less than 2 years’ service Ms Plumbley had limited legal rights and in particular is not able to bring a Claim for Unfair Dismissal.
However, if she had got the necessary qualifying service then she may well have had a Claim. Leaving those sort of messages could arguably amount to a breach of the implied contractual term of mutual trust and confidence and therefore to constructive dismissal if Ms Plumbley had resigned in response to them.
That being said, context is everything and without knowing what Ms Allan’s full explanation is in respect of her side of the story we cannot say for certain. Indeed, an employee who failed to make appropriate contact with their employer during sickness absence could find themselves facing perfectly legitimate disciplinary action in certain circumstances.