A long-serving leisure centre worker who said she had been made to feel “undervalued and worthless” when her role was changed and hours were cut has won her claim for unfair dismissal, writes Gareth Hughes.

Bethan Thomas, who had worked at Harlech swimming-pool for almost 40 years, resigned in February this year and in April friends held a social evening to thank her for her work

Ms Thomas began working for Gwynedd County Council as a receptionist in 1983 but by the time of her resignation was a duty manager. Over the years she was a swimming teacher, Aquafit instructor, lifeguard and cafe supervisor, and her contract stated she should work for 37 hours a week.

In 2020 the pool was taken over by Harlech Ardudwy Leisure, a social enterprise company, and in the summer of 2022 Donna Morris-Collins became manager.

Mrs Morris-Collins carried out a review of the centre’s cafe operations, one of the proposed changes being the introduction of split shifts.

Ms Thomas raised concerns because she lived 20 miles away and going home during the two-hour break between shifts would entail much more travelling.

She also objected being told that if she did not work split shifts her hours would be reduced as she could not afford to work part-time.

She was told that her concerns would be considered by the Board and that she was a valued member of the team, but she went off sick in January this year and never returned to work.

Upholding her claim for constructive dismissal, Employment Judge Stephen Jenkins found that the terms of her contract had been breached and that although Mrs Morris-Collins had stated that the changes were only “proposals” they were to take effect immediately.

He said the company board had failed to deal with her grievance and “left her in limbo” for seven weeks, which amounted to “a breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence”.

At the end of a remote tribunal hearing Ms Thomas was awarded £10,683 in compensation.