Ex-Capita accountant who claimed £10k bung to leave was blackmail has appeal thrown out

You didn't work 2 weeks straight so you couldn't have been whistleblowing, tribunal rules

A Capita accountant who turned down a £10,000 bung to leave the firm only to be sacked anyway has lost her appeal against a rejected Employment Tribunal case.

Mowe Saha claimed that in December 2015 Capita's deputy group financial controller, Simon Mayall, had offered her £10,000 to quit, which she refused. She was fired a few days later after describing this as "blackmail" in an email to senior execs.

That cash offer was made in a meeting where the Employment Tribunal (ET) later ruled that Mayall had ordered "no notes should be taken", though Capita HR worker Ana Maru made notes from memory afterwards and emailed them to Mayall.

Saha had emailed her managers saying she refused to work extended hours in January 2016 preparing the group's accounts, claiming that in 2015 she had worked "76-hour weeks… without a day's break" and that this was a breach of the EU Working Time Regulations.

Opposing her, Capita's lawyers argued that Saha had been "confrontational" throughout her employment, refusing routine requests from her line managers and escalating disagreements over accounting policies to senior directors and even Capita group board members. Her immediate line manager was said to have become "ill" from the stress of managing the accountant.

Saha's appeal went ahead on one point: whether she had made a protected disclosure when she emailed her managers and refused to work for what she claimed was 14 days straight without time off. The EU Working Time Regulations, which were copied into UK law as the Working Time Regulations 1998, guarantee "two uninterrupted rest periods each of not less than 24 hours in each 14-day period or one uninterrupted rest period of not less than 48 hours in each such 14-day period," as the ET put it.

Unfortunately for Saha, the ET – made up of the same people who threw out most of her original case – ruled that in reality she had worked for 12 days straight and not 14 after Capita produced a copy of a roster from January 2015, even though Saha claimed (unsuccessfully) that the roster had been doctored.

A finding that the accountant had worked for 12 and not 14 days meant that the law on days off could not be applied, scuppering Saha's appeal.

Dismissing the case, the ET said: "We have found there was no protected disclosure and moreover that the without prejudice offer was not a detriment… in this case, we find the evidence overwhelming that the reason for dismissal was the breakdown of working relationships and the claimant's mode of communication over a long period of time." ®

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