CABA retains governance stance despite tribunal loss

THE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION for chartered accountants has declined to change its governance procedures despite an employment tribunal ruling that one of its employees had been unfairly dismissed, Accountancy Age has learned.

Samantha Reddy was awarded costs of £3,000 by Birmingham Employment Tribunal, and her undisclosed compensatory award increased by 25% for her unfair dismissal in February 2014. She had worked for the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association (CABA), which provides support to current and former ICAEW members and their families.

The relationship between Reddy and two senior colleagues deteriorated following her unsuccessful application for a promotion in November 2012, according to tribunal papers seen by Accountancy Age. The position instead went to the only other internal candidate.

Reddy, who disagreed with the decision to give the job to the other employee, was signed off work with illness shortly afterwards. The tribunal heard that in January 2013 she had a return-to-work interview, and relations between Reddy and her two managers deteriorated subsequently.

The judgment shows that between January and May 2013, Reddy’s managers held several meetings with her raising issues with her behaviour and choice of work-wear.

Despite treating those meetings as informal, the tribunal held that some of them took a disciplinary tone, and when, in June, Reddy requested a fuller explanation of the problems, none was forthcoming, the tribunal heard.

The body “strongly refutes” Reddy’s allegations, chief executive Kath Haines [pictured] told Accountancy Age, before adding no change in governance was planned as a result.

“The accusations made [by Reddy] are very unfair, and not something we recognise. CABA surveys staff twice a year with the results anonymised and they don’t bear out the climate of fear she describes,” Haines said.

In a letter to the association’s trustees – seen by Accountancy Age – Reddy said that she had no confidence in its grievance procedure because a consultant previously connected with the charity had been appointed to oversee it. She alleged the organisation was too top heavy, with almost one in three staff in managerial positions.

Speaking to Accountancy Age, CABA said that of its current staff of 28, three are in senior posts and a further seven with ‘manager’ in their title but who are not in charge of large teams.

Following her claim for unfair dismissal at the employment tribunal, Reddy’s claims for sexual discrimination and for unlawful deductions from her wages were subsequently withdrawn. CABA’s internal grievance procedure, which amounted to a five-month investigation, did not uphold Reddy’s claims.

CABA was set up with the aim of providing a safety net for chartered accountants and their dependents in need. It is not a charitable arm of the ICAEW, but an entirely independent charity providing financial aid, training, advice and counselling to the institute’s members. Having spent most of its existence as a charity, it was incorporated as a company in 2005 and ceased solely providing monetary aid. Instead, it moved to provide a far broader range of services in 2008, including counselling and career advice, as well as signposting to other aid organisations.


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