DWP worker's 'life made hell' after warning for asthma attack

DWP worker's 'life made hell' after warning for asthma attack

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) worker has been awarded £26,000 for unfair treatment from his bosses, after they labelled him a ‘whinger’ and gave him a warning following an asthma attack at work – The Mirror reports.

Barrie Caulcutt, 55, who worked at the DWP for 35 years, won an employment tribunal against bosses at a Caernarfon-based DWP office, after his ‘life was made hell’ by his bosses ‘merciless’ treatment.

A tribunal ruled that the DWP was guilty of discrimination for failing to make reasonable adjustments for Caulcutt’s disability. Caulcutt suffers from anxiety, chronic asthma, eczema and previously had prostate cancer which was successfully operated on.  

He said that problems began after he was moved from a backroom function to work on the ‘frontline’ looking after ‘angry’ benefits claimants - going against advice from his GP and DWP’s occupational health advisors that he shouldn’t deal with customers.

In March 2014, Caulcutt asked to be excused from a training seminar held in a small room due to his anxiety. He then suffered from an asthma attack and was rushed to hospital.

Afterwards, he was given a written warning for taking 2.5 more sick days than allowed, was marked down as ‘could improve’ and was pressurised to move to work at a Bangor DWP office.

An email sent by DWP Manager, Bev Lovatt, to Caernarfon JobCentre manager, Eiddwen Borland, in September 2014 said: “Let him whinge like crap and raise it in his ET (Employment Tribunal). He doesn’t deserve us to be nice to him.”

PCS union representative Peter Doughty, said of the case: “It was callous and cruel to give a written warning to someone who nearly lost his life. I’m pleased for Barrie that he has stood up for his rights and that the tribunal found in his favour.

"It is, however, a sad reflection on the DWP that this case ever went all the way to a tribunal. The costs are a huge amount in comparison to the award. This is taxpayers money.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We take the welfare of our staff extremely seriously and also expect the highest standards of behaviour from all employees. We will be reviewing the tribunal’s findings.”

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