The claimant was employed on a temporary specified-purpose contract to replace a Senior Medical Officer (SMO) who had taken a four year career break. However, due to the wishes of a permanent employee, Dr. X, to return after two years, the claimant was informed that her employment was terminated.

The respondent contended that it had no option but to terminate the claimant due to the governments imposed moratorium on recruitment which, it claimed, forbade the creation of a new position to accommodate Dr. X in her original position.

The claimant’s contract stipulated that, “your employment with (the respondent) shall be for the purpose of filling a vacant post pending the permanent filling of the post through open competition.” There was no prospect of an open competition in the future and the ‘specified purpose’ of the claimant’s contract had come to an end with the return of a permanent SMO.

In finding against the respondent, the Tribunal emphasised that even though the local management might consider themselves bound by the circulars upon which they had relied which gave effect to the policies and objectives of the Government (S 7(5)(c) of the Health Act 2004), the respondent is the organisation as a whole. Given that the HSE considered itself free to change the details of how the moratorium was to be applied, the circulars could not be described as an external supervening effect.

As the only external document produced to the Tribunal from the Department of Finance referred only to re-organisation and re-deployment of staff and to non-renewal of temporary contracts, with no mention of dismissals as such, there was a failure to demonstrate a substantial ground justifying dismissal.

The appropriate remedy was re-engagement and for all purposes other than payment of remuneration the service was deemed to be continuous with her earlier service under her contract of employment. Reinstatement was not appropriate as the claimant had earnings from other employment after her dismissal.