Employment Law Update
Welcome to July’s Employment Law Update. In this month’s issue, we look at dismissal - and two organisations who failed to follow correct procedures. Also, we provide some useful guidance to help you make firm but fair arrangements for watching the World Cup games.
World Cup arrangements
As the World Cup season is well under way, many companies across the UK are working with employees to find a happy medium. The following methods have proved successful in the past as an effective way of keeping employees happy - without losing working time to unauthorised absence:
- Making important matches available to watch at work
- Allowing flexible working so that lost time can be made up
- Introducing the possibility of taking annual leave on short notice (provided there’s adequate cover available)
It’s recommended that you remind employees of the sickness absence policy and explain that absence will be carefully monitored during the games.
Failure to follow disciplinary procedures can be breach of contract
Our next case highlights just how important it is for employers to correctly follow dismissal procedures, and how failing to do so means that you’re faced with penalties and fines.
Dr Edwards was dismissed from his employment at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital on the grounds of gross professional misconduct, following a disciplinary hearing. He appealed but his appeal was dismissed.
Edwards claimed that the Trust conducted the disciplinary hearing in breach of its contractual procedures, which led to his dismissal – preventing him from finding permanent NHS employment. He also claimed this caused him a career-long loss of £4 million.
When the case was taken to the Court of Appeal, it had to be decided whether or not Edwards was restricted to a breach of contract claim for his 3-month notice period entitlement, or for all his losses. The Court decided that he is entitled to pursue damages in the normal way for the breach of contract, without limitations.
If an employer causes an unfair dismissal by failing to follow a contractual procedure, it could be that potentially there is nothing to stop the employee from suing for damages for future losses based upon that breach.
And finally... Intention to give notice does not amount to dismissal
Again, it’s important that you follow your dismissal procedures correctly. In the following case, a security company removed Ibrahim, who was working as a guard, from a customer’s site following complaints. The employer wrote to Ibrahim to inform him that of another position could not be found in four weeks “the company could have no alternative other than to issue you notice and terminate your employment”. However, no alternative employment was found. Ibrahim’s employer stopped paying him and he didn’t return to work.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) stated that although the employer’s letter made it clear that notice might be given in the future, it was not actually the same as giving notice. In a nutshell, notice to terminate employment must at least state the date of termination.
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