Tribunal orders HBOS to pay mortgage adviser £22k

Tribunal orders HBOS to pay mortgage adviser £22k
  Credit: Miles Willis/Bloomberg

HBOS, now part of Lloyds Banking Group, has been ordered to pay one of its former mortgage advisers over £22,000 by an employment tribunal.

The mortgage adviser had worked for the bank for 21 years, from September 2000 to January 2022.

After a hearing in Glasgow held last month, the tribunal concluded that the bank breached its duty of “mutual trust and confidence” with the adviser, and that she resigned in response.

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The bank had argued that the adviser “resigned voluntarily”.

Ms Lindsay was a mortgage and protection adviser based in the bank’s Hamilton branch in Scotland.

Sometime into her employment, in 2016, she began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following a family bereavement.

This led her to experience anxiety and panic attacks, the tribunal heard. On October 17, 2021, Lindsay had a “significant family disagreement” which led to a panic attack.

After this, Lindsay’s GP increased her medication and signed her off as unfit for work for three weeks.

On November 10, her due date back to the office, Lindsay was not ready to return.

Her line manager, Ms Jallow, had suggested she be redeployed to a role which was not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 

But the adviser’s consultant had said she should not be taking any decisions about her role at this stage.

Despite this, Jallow contacted the bank’s Human Resources team and relayed their advice back to Lindsay.

She was then “insistent” that the adviser contact her GP regarding further treatment options, and told the adviser they needed to speak on the phone every 11 days despite this being “incorrect”.

On December 3, Lindsay’s GP signed her off for a further six weeks.

During this time, the adviser told her manager by email: “I need to be allowed to follow medical recommendations without being asked to do more or anything different by work, as it’s having a significant impact on me and is detrimental to my recovery.”

The adviser then went on pre-booked annual leave to Blackpool with her family on December 16.

A day later Jallow called Lindsay from a withheld number, after agreeing not to contact her until January 17 and to text before calling.

She told the adviser that senior management had brought to her attention social media posts about the adviser’s cake making business. 

“The claimant was told to be ‘mindful’ of the impact posting about this would have on colleagues when she was off sick,” the tribunal heard.

“The claimant said that she had not been doing anything wrong and that this was a hobby which was therapeutic and had been approved by the bank.”

The tribunal concluded that the bank “should reasonably have known” that calling the employee unannounced about a work related matter which was not urgent and in which the employee’s conduct was being criticised, would cause them “significant distress”.

“There was no reasonable or proper cause for the call and there was no urgency for such a call to be made,” it said.