A former HR officer has taken Cheshire East Council to an employment tribunal after she left the local authority soon after trying to blow the whistle.
Sue Wallace, of Connah’s Quay, left CEC on December 31, 2016, just weeks after producing a report which suggested the council had failed to pay some care workers who undertook ‘sleep-in shifts’ the minimum wage.
In a hearing in Manchester which began last Monday, the tribunal heard that Ms Wallace was on a fixed-term contract which was placed under threat in a HR restructure.
Mike Suarez, CEC’s suspended chief executive, told the tribunal that he received an email from Ms Wallace on November 30 titled ‘Whistleblowing Disclosure’ and the matter was passed onto Frank Jordan, executive director of place.
Ms Wallace accused Mr Jordan of failing to include her concerns about ‘sleep-in shifts’ in a report which would help to determine whether her complaints – which also included concerns about the HR restructure and alleged bullying – met the whistleblowing criteria.
Mr Jordan said: “The purpose of my report was to clarify the allegations. It was not to close anything down.”
Peter Bates, CEC’s suspended chief operating officer, was also accused of asking Ms Wallace to drop her concerns ahead of a meeting with Mr Jordan on December 16.
“You asked me to withdraw from my meeting with Mr Jordan the next day,” she said.
Mr Bates said: “I completely, 100 per cent, categorically reject that. I would never ask an officer to withdraw from a meeting.”
Jeremy Lewis, the barrister representing CEC, has alleged that Ms Wallace colluded with her colleague Deborah Owen to put pressure on the HR restructure and Sara Barker, head of strategic HR at CEC.
“I’m just not that devious,” Mrs Owen said.
“It’s more important [to testify] and I am risking my employment by being here.”
Ms Wallace is due to give her evidence today, Wednesday June 13.
By Stephen Topping – Local Democracy Reporter