GP manager was unfairly dismissed after allegedly awarding herself unauthorised pay rise, tribunal rules

ET says dismissal would have been fair if the employer had carried out a proper investigation

GP manager was unfairly dismissed after allegedly awarding herself unauthorised pay rise, tribunal rules

This case was reconsidered in May 2021 and parts of the original judgment were revoked, substituting findings that the respondent authorised all the claimant’s pay increases and bonus, with the consequence that the claimant was unfairly dismissed both substantively and procedurally. 

It also rejected the original findings that had a fair procedure been adopted, the claimant would probably have been dismissed in any event; and that the claimant’s conduct contributed to her dismissal.


A manager at a GP practice was unfairly dismissed following allegations that she and her mother gave themselves unauthorised pay rises, an employment tribunal (ET) has ruled. 

Sareet Sidhu was dismissed for gross misconduct over allegations of theft of money, removing cash from the practice, failing to follow management instructions and increasing her own pay from £24,000 to £97,000 without authorisation or justification.

But the Watford ET ruled that Sidhu’s employer – Allenby Clinic/Northolt Family Practice in west London – failed to carry out a proper investigation because Sidhu was not given the opportunity to participate.

The ET added that Sidhu’s dismissal for increasing her salary would have been fair if a proper investigation had been conducted. Sidhu’s mother’s claims are being heard separately.



Sidhu began working at Northolt Family Practice as assistant practice manager in February 2013. Her mother was the practice manager at the time.

In 2014, Dr Sangeeta Rathor took over the practice and merged it with her own. By 2017, Sidhu was the practice manager and her mother was business manager. The ET found that both got on well with Rathor until a “significant falling out” some time between June and October 2017. 

The tribunal described the financial controls within the practice up to that point as “lax in the extreme”. No documented evidence of financial control was provided to the tribunal, although the judgement said “in all probability” Sidhu and her mother had taken advantage of the “casual management” to increase Sidhu’s hourly rate, paying her an extra £2,000 per month beginning in May 2017. 

The tribunal found Sidhu’s mother “did the same and withdrew substantial amounts in cash monthly”, and said Sidhu must have been aware of this. 

The ET described Dr Rathor as “extremely busy” with the clinical side of the practice while Sidhu and her mother “were left to do the administrative work with a good deal of autonomy”. 

In June, Rathor “became increasingly aware of the high levels of remuneration being paid”, and this was “souring the relationship between the parties”. 

On 2 October, the tribunal heard there was a meeting between the three at which Rathor challenged Sidhu and her mother on the level of their remuneration. The next day, Rathor consulted with employment law advisors who told her to suspend Sidhu and her mother and begin an investigation.

On 4 October, Sidhu and her mother were suspended, and Sidhu was invited to an investigation meeting on 10 October which she did not attend. 

Sidhu attended a disciplinary hearing on 30 October with an external HR consultant. The evidence at the meeting showed Sidhu’s salary was £94,910, compared to an industry average for a practice manager of £45,000. 

A separate investigation report, prepared by the practice’s accounting firm, demonstrated a “financial loss to the practice of £138,460 as a result of financial transactions engaged in by [Sidhu and her mother]”. 

This report and another in relation to the forging of Rathor’s signature were directly relied on for a finding of gross misconduct. 

As a result, Sidhu was dismissed with immediate effect in a letter dated 28 November. On 5 December, she appealed against the decision to dismiss her, but this was unsuccessful. 

Sidhu then brought claims of unfair dismissal, shortfall of wages paid after her suspension and a claim for notice pay. 

The tribunal found Sidhu’s dismissal was procedurally unfair as she was deprived of the opportunity to participate in the investigation due to the “total lack” of information as to what charges she faced.

The judgement said: “We find that the disciplinary hearing was unfair in that [Sidhu] was not provided with significant documentation and further information that was relied upon to a significant extent to dismiss her.”

But the tribunal admitted that if a fair procedure been adopted, “it is inevitable that [Sidhu] would have been dismissed in any event” for making unauthorised pay rises.

The tribunal ruled Sidhu was owed £2,668 in unpaid wages.

Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, said the case was a stark example of how a failure to implement fair, impartial disciplinary procedures can result in successful unfair dismissal claims before an ET – even if there are clear signs of dishonesty. 

“Theft is a very serious accusation, and employers should always ensure a thorough investigation is conducted and clear evidence gathered before any decision is made to terminate employment,” Holcroft said. “As seen here, the fact that the evidence used in the dismissal was contradictory and unreliable was key to the finding of unfair dismissal, as it failed to demonstrate a ‘reasonable belief’ on the part of the employer.”

He added tribunals would not take kindly to unproven accusations that led to unfair dismissal claims, as dismissing an employee on the basis of theft could be highly damaging to their reputation and their ability to seek further employment.

Holcroft said it was essential to make the disciplinary process “as airtight as possible”. 

Allenby Clinic/Northolt Family Practice was contacted for comment. Sidhu could not be reached for comment.


This case was reconsidered in May 2021 and parts of the original judgment were revoked, substituting findings that the respondent authorised all the claimant’s pay increases and bonus, with the consequence that the claimant was unfairly dismissed both substantively and procedurally. 

It also rejected the original findings that had a fair procedure been adopted, the claimant would probably have been dismissed in any event; and that the claimant’s conduct contributed to her dismissal.