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I have been working as a nursery nurse since 2005. My qualifications were taken in Germany and a comparison was made by UK Naric and found to be in order and am probably more qualified than my peers. Then last year I was told that the qualification requirements had changed and I could not get a like for like comparison for the UK requirement. I had a long-running dispute with Naric and also involved other institutes to try and resolve the issue. I communicated all of this to my employer and kept them up to date, but have recently been called into a disciplinary hearing. Here I was given a ‘formal final written warning’ due to not having the most recent qualifying status and for not signing up to a course to obtain these qualifications. I had never received any previous warnings and I will have to fund the course at my own expense. They want me to do the course in nine months even though the course advisor has told me that it takes 18-24 months. I also have to do this in my own time and also have two small children to look after. Do you think that I have any recourse to enter an appeal and take this matter further?
The position in law is that an employer would be entitled to dismiss an employee if s/he did not have the relevant qualification for the position for which s/he was employed.
I recommend that you do proceed by appealing against your employer’s decision and that you endeavour to negotiate an extended time of 18-24 months in which you can take the relevant courses to meet your employer’s requirements for the qualification. You should appeal the decision on the basis that you have had no previous warnings and that you are willing to undertake the course over a period of 18-24 months. You should obtain a letter from the course provider, insofar as possible, confirming that the course will take 18-24 months rather than the nine months suggested by your employer. You should also notify your employer that you have childcare responsibilities which would make the nine-month timeframe difficult.
You should be aware that, unless you can demonstrate that the qualification requested by your employer is not a UK requirement or essential for the role, your employer could dismiss you fairly on the ground that you do not have the relevant qualification. The outcome of this matter really is a matter for negotiation and I would recommend that you take the opportunity, during the course of your appeal, to negotiate and agree a compromise.
If you are dismissed, and decide that you wish to bring a claim, you must notify ACAS of your intention to bring the claim within three months less a day of the date of any dismissal. You should also seek specialist employment law advice as soon as you are dismissed.