Thursday, 15 April 2010

Not Everyone Is Suitable for Every Job


Pictures courtesy of the Mail

Ben Parkinson (left) suffered 37 separate injuries in a landmine blast, lost both his legs and is severely brain damaged. He was offered £152,00 in compensation by the MoD.

Tilern DeBique (right), a woman who won a controversial sex discrimination claim over Army childcare, now wants an extraordinary £1.14 million in compensation.

Ben was eventually awarded £570,000 compensation but only after the government caved in to public outrage. His mother had to give up her job to look after him and got nothing.

Ms Debique's claim includes £473,535 for loss of earnings, £325,160 for loss of Army benefits, £315,562 for loss of pension rights, £18,000 for 'hurt feelings' and £10,000 in aggravated damages. Miss Debique admits turning down a UK posting with childcare facilities and applying for civilian jobs in Afghanistan before leaving the Army.

She quit her job as a technician in the 10th Signal Regiment in April 2008 after being disciplined for failing to appear on parade because of childcare difficulties for her daughter. Besides winning her landmark sex discrimination case she also won a claim for race discrimination because Army chiefs did not let her bring her half-sister from the Caribbean - where she was recruited - to look after her child.

She was offered a 'unique' five-year non-deployable posting to Blandford Army garrison in Dorset, which had childcare facilities, in 2007.

I remember the days when, if a female member of the armed forces married they had to resign their job. Thankfully those days are long gone.

As I understand it, when Ms Debique signed up with the Army it was her intention to leave her child in the Carribean where she could be looked after by family. She changed her mind later and brought her daughter to the UK then expected the Army to sponsor her half-sister to come and look after her niece.

I was a working mother yet I never expected my employer to arrange my childcare. Also I had a back-up arrangement plus an emergency arrangement - all rather costly but a fair solution for my peace of mind. Thousands of women continue to do that today. Most do not expect their employer to provide facilities.

This young woman earned £30,341 a year so surely she could have organised proper childcare. She knew when she joined the Army that her hours of duty would be variable. It was her responsibility to ensure her child was cared for in these circumstances, yet the Army did offer her a job which included childcare facilities. She said she "only had 4 days to make a decision" so handed in her year's notice in April 2007.

My sympathy lies with the taxpayer in this instance. We will have to pay Ms Debique's compensation which will be announced by the Central London Emplyment Tribunal tomorrow. My sympathy also lies with Ben Parkinson and his mother for the long fight they had to receive an amount of money which will go some way to assisting with his care.

Not everyone is suitable for every job as the case of Ms Debique starkly shows. I agree with her commanding officer who told her the Army was "unsuitable for a single mother who couldn't sort out her childcare arrangements". The Army work in teams and when one member of the team isn't pulling their weight, it affects everyone. Of course, in cases of medical or family emergency there has to be understanding from an employer but in this case it appears it was neither.


33 comments:

Surreptitious Evil said...

SR - I can't believe that pay figure the Mail came up with - she was a LCpl. The Level 9 2009 rate for a higher-band job is £28,372 ...

Uncle Marvo said...

It is shameful that Ben sustained those injuries AT ALL, let alone fighting in a war that nobody can win. Even veteran Labourite Tony Benn, whom I hold in high regard, agrees with that.

My proposal is this; it is in two parts:

1. Blair and Brown should be made to stand on a landmine, and
2. Ms DeBique can fuck RIGHT off.

I think that is more than fair.

I'm sure CSR will be along in a minute to give the military perspective.

Ruth said...

I really think I'd better not comment on this - mainly because my response would be so full of expletetives that I'd probably manage to offend a large number of readers.
I will merely pose one question - why on earth are the Army recruiting foreigners when there's millions of unemployed people in the UK? Many of whom - despite the wars we're involved in - would jump at the chance of joining up.

Uncle Marvo said...

Is she foreign?

Surreptitious Evil said...

Ruth, go back a few years and there weren't enough British youngsters wanting to join up. Hence the big drive to recruit from the Commonwealth. We didn't do too badly from it (especially the Regimental rugby teams) with the Fijians and, most famously, LCpl Beharry VC (from Grenada in the Caribbean).

Now, with the collapse in the economy, the recruiting pipelines seem to be quite full.

UM - St Vincent.

subrosa said...

SE, 2009-2010 pay scales show Cpl's pay as between £27,051 - £32,532 so I should think a L/Cpl would be in between wouldn't you? I was as amazed as you when I read the pay and checked it out.

http://www.hmforces.co.uk/content/army_pay_rates_2009

subrosa said...

I can't find anything on ARRSE about it Marvo so perhaps CSR can fill us in. Shouldn't think many serving would be at all pleased about this.

subrosa said...

She was recruited under commonwealth rules Ruth. We recruit from commonwealth countries to give those the opportunity to experience this country and the army.

It's the recruitment process which is wrong. I mean, why would anyone think a young single woman with a baby was suitable for a 24x7 job and also had to be extremely mobile? I understand she left the baby with family in the Carribean then decided she wanted it here with her plus a relative to look after it. The army wouldn't sponsor the relative (why should they?)

Our laws require adjusting (I'm being polite here).

subrosa said...

She is from the Carribean Marvo, a commonwealth country.

subrosa said...

We've always recruited from commonwealth countries though SE, even in my day. Not a lot I grant you but bright youngsters would apply.

This one's bright enough. I don't think she would have landed in the Signals if she wasn't. Maybe slightly too bright for UK law.

Uncle Marvo said...

I'm sure I posted a comment somewhere about the commonwealth.

:-)

Cold Steel Rain said...

@Ruth lots of foreigners serve the Brit Army with distinction. Johhny Gurkha to name but one.

However - LCpl Workshy is a complete disgrace. Day one of recruit training makes a subtle point of informing you to 'report for duty without fail'

I was ten minutes late and spent 6 hours in Jail carrying a shell above my head whilst marking time. It hurt - I cried, but learnt my lesson.

What I didn't do was quit. Then sue. Then roll around in cash that would be better spent on equipment.

There are at the moment countless stories of the bravery of our troops both under fire and then dealing with horrific wounds sustained in battle.

Miss DeBique is not and IMHO never was a British Soldier. We are made of sterner stuff. The Army is well shot of her malingering, whiny, compo seeking backside.

subrosa said...

It's not here Marvo. I've looked through all the cupboards and the desk and I hoovered yesterday too so it's not on the floor. ;)

Surreptitious Evil said...

Arrse threads - "Should the Army provide childcare" and "Disgust over Ms DeBique". Warning, the other thread "Now she wants £500,000 ... Sexy T" contains images from her MySpace account.

I'm more than slightly ashamed that she was a member of my Corps.

Uncle Marvo said...

@CSR:

Couldn't they just shoot her? That would stop all the arguments.

I'll do it if they want. {Providing I can keep the Jimpy afterwards - I have another use for it).

subrosa said...

I'll tell you a wee story SE about someone dear to me who is dead now. They had a severely handicapped child and one day he was late for duty owing to an emergency. Like you he was put on fatigues, carrying a bag of coal up and down the fells in Catterick for 2 days. That's some years ago but he certainly never forgot it either.

He too would have been ashamed this woman had been recruited to his regiment.

tris said...

Uncle Marvo: I don't think that her nationality is relevant really, it's the fact that she thinks that soldiering comes after parenting. It doesn't, otherwise people end up dead. Additionally where she's from doesn't matter, she's a UK soldier. We can't argue one thing for the Nepalesse and another for Caribbeans.

Sorry, this is sexist I guess, but sometimes we have to accept that women are a tiny little bit different to men. They have babies, and they need child care. (I know men can be single parents too, but it is so rare.)

We really can't say to the taliban "can you come back at 9 in the morning to shoot us up, because all our soldiers are busy looking after their kids, but the nursery opens at 8.30 so, by 9 we'll be able to do some heavy duty killing.

War isn't like that.

Sometimes even women (and I say that because I'm forever hearing that they want to be parents and have a career at the same time and we have to accommodate them) have to make choices and realise that they can't have it all. If you want to be a single parent you really can't be an active soldier.

You may be able to combine for other careers, and the rest of us may have to put ourselves about a bit to accommodate it, but soldiering is going too far.

subrosa said...

Ah SE, thanks for that. I could find any on Tuesday.

subrosa said...

Auch Marvo, if only life was so simple.

In certain other countries they may well do that though.

CrazyDaisy said...

Have a pal who is a serving single mum, all she asks is to be given a few days notice incase she's deployed to sort out childcare, she arranges it, deploys, carries out her duties - no complaints!

Inno way is this woman entitled to £1M plus....

subrosa said...

CD, fortunately most women who work make arrangements for their childcare, whether single mums or not. Some, for various reasons, are 'single' mums but get on with it.

This woman deserves nothing but the Army legals have to waken up to these cases.

subrosa said...

Tris, single male parents in the services isn't unusual owing to the lifestyle. Sometimes the mother dies or runs off with someone who isn't on duty 24x7, but the men get on with it the same as the women.

Some single parents are excellent soldiers. This one wasn't.

The military legal team really have to get their heads out of the sand and start dealing with these rogue compensation cases with some nouse.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I think we're still waiting for a finding on this one.

There's no limit on what can be claimed but I think the lady in question is in for a severe attack of reality.

Candidly I think she has an incompetent team representing her who have raised her expectation while increasing their fees.

Unfortunately the same technique is reversed when applied to genuine cases such as the injured soldier.

Two wrongs have never made a right; but the vultures of esoteric knowledge keep trying to brew the alchemy that will change the fact.

subrosa said...

The verdict today will be interesting RA. Already the tribunal have applied was I always thought were laws only for civilians (as military personnel requirements are quite different).

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Arguably Rosa,employment as a civilian may restrict her rights against those that could be reasonably expected by a serving soldier.

We will just have to see if sense is a factor

Surreptitious Evil said...

As far as I am aware, the verdict is already in and the MoD have lost - what we are waiting for now is the compensation hearing.

For a while now, service personnel can bring cases to employment tribunal, under certain discrimination laws, once they have exhausted the service redress procedures - the two areas Ms DeBique brought are allowed - sex and race. (Sexual Orientation also counts - Kerry Fletcher case).

Ms DeBique is representing herself, apparently - which then amazes me (actually, no, it doesn't, MoD incompetence rarely does now) how we have managed to lose such a ridiculous extension of the legal principles.

The key point in this appears to be the tribunal and EAT's decisions that the UK's rules on immigration and the MoD had the same 'controlling mind' therefore the refusal to allow her relative in was 'the MoD's fault' - and indirect racial discrimination, and that the Blandford offer was not sufficient to count against indirect sexual discrimination (because she had already decided that enough was enough.) It has to be said that, under the law, any discrimination against people from St Vincent is, reasonably, indirect racial discrimination (whether you happen to be black or white) and against single parents is indirect sexual discrimination (whether you are the mother or the father.)

Personally, I think this whole thing is appalling but then any form of return to crown immunity is probably not achievable under HRA98.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Surreptitious, you seem to on the ball with this one.

I for one wouldn't want any return to crown immunity. A return to common sense and values would do me.

subrosa said...

Yes SE, sorry I didn't make myself clear. It's the compensation which was to be decided today.

Ms DeBique had help from one of England's top QCs SE, but I'll have to dig around for her name. I understand she is only representing herself regarding the compensation.

I've read quite a bit about cases such as this earlier today and I agree with your assessments. The MoD lawyers were rather pathetic by all accounts and did not emphasise the efforts the Army made to accommodation the woman. She had no weekend or night duties for example, yet she still wasn't happy.

Her whole aim was to get this family member into the UK. My argument was why should the military support that.

Isn't it dreadful we have cases like this, yet when troops are deployed overseas, they have no protection whatsoever. The HRA doesn't apply to them.

subrosa said...

SE has up to date knowledge about certain procedures RA, mine are rather out of date. The HRA didn't exist in my day yet the military did their job. Common sense is lost I think. I have my doubts if it ever will return to this society.

Surreptitious Evil said...

£17,106 - about 9 months pay? Given that she was claiming £1.1m (and had already been ruled in favour of on 2 counts), that definitely counts as an away no-score draw from the MOD point of view.

SR - I thought the Pte Jason Smith / Iraq case has shown that there is some application of HRA to soldiers out of immediate combat and the various Article 3 cases (particularly Al-Skeini v Secretary of State for Defence) have shown that there is HRA protection for civilians (a 4 to 1 House of Lords ruling)?

subrosa said...

Aye I heard it on the car radio earlier SE. Think perhaps the £1m+ claim was a bit of spin from her legal team (although it's reported she defended herself).

I thought the Jason Smith case was under appeal SE but you've updated me. Yes there was a HoL ruling but I didn't think it had been ratified by the HoC who were originally against it.

Must do my homework better.

Thanks so much for the links. :)

Surreptitious Evil said...

The Smith case hasn't gone to what is now the Supreme Court AFAIK - the HoL ruling I mentioned was for the Al-Skeini case.

subrosa said...

Thanks SE. Of course I'd forgotten about this 'new' legal circus, the Supreme Court. That's the one where no appeals are permitted isn't it?

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