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Is it safe to dismiss an employee who is receiving long-term disability benefits?

The EAT has dealt a blow to employers, confirming that the purpose of permanent health insurance and similar schemes would be defeated if an employer could end entitlements under this type of scheme by dismissing the employee on grounds of capability. 
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Is it safe to dismiss an employee who is receiving long-term disability benefits?

Disciplinary investigations: Common sense and even-handedness should prevail

In the recent Employment Tribunal (ET) case of Ball v. First Essex Bus Limited, the claimant, a 60-year-old bus driver who suffers from diabetes, has been successful in his unfair dismissal claim. He persuaded an ET that his dismissal for being under the influence of cocaine whilst on duty was both substantively and procedurally unfair. The claimant had failed a random drug test.

This case shouldn’t instil fear in employers who require to carry out random or “with cause” drug testing despite the attention-grabbing headlines that have been published in response to the ET decision. It should, however, serve as a useful reminder to employers to follow their own policies and procedures (which should be regularly updated) as well as the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance even in the face of (or perhaps particularly in the face of) very serious, career-ending, allegations. In this case the employer failed to follow its own drug and alcohol policy and contractual disciplinary policy. Importantly the drug and alcohol policy expressly allowed an employee to challenge the results of a positive test but the respondent did not bring this to the employee’s attention. The policy also required that an independent laboratory identified by the employee carry out a second test. This didn’t happen either. In addition the disciplinary policy provided that both investigating officer and disciplinary manager must carefully consider any verbal or written evidence submitted by the employee or their representatives. This was roundly ignored.

The judgment sets out a very good summary of what the ACAS Code requires an employer to do when operating any disciplinary procedure or process and in particular that an employer should keep an open mind and look for evidence that supports the employee’s case as well as evidence against it. In this case it appeared to the judge that “the respondent would pursue any avenue that would shore up the case against the claimant yet ignore any factor that might support the claimant’s position”. The judge also commented that “any disciplinary process requires a degree of common sense”.

The claimant’s position on cross-contamination (by handling cash and his fingers coming into contact with his mouth) was all but ignored despite being “open to the issue” as far as the judge was concerned. The employee had long service and an unblemished record. The fact that all four senior managers involved in the disciplinary process (investigation, disciplinary, first appeal and second appeal) found it odd that a 60-year-old man who suffered from diabetes, had no history of drug taking whatsoever, had an unblemished record, was of good character and whose managers were surprised that he had allegedly taken cocaine meant that any reasonable employer would have made further enquiries.

Disciplinary investigations: Common sense and even-handedness should prevail

Dismissal of pilot with anxiety-related sickness absences held to be procedurally unfair

In Matthew Guest v. Flybe Limited, the Birmingham Employment Tribunal considered whether the dismissal of a pilot who had various anxiety-related sickness absences was fair and found that it was not.
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Dismissal of pilot with anxiety-related sickness absences held to be procedurally unfair

Does giving notice amount to an unambiguous act of resignation from employment?

An employee giving notice does not necessarily amount to an unambiguous act of resignation from employment, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found in East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy.
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Does giving notice amount to an unambiguous act of resignation from employment?

Unfair Dismissal: extending the date of dismissal by the statutory notice period

The recent case of Lancaster & Duke v. Wileman is a useful reminder to employers that terminating an employee's employment in the week before they gain two years' continuous service may still enable an employee to claim that they have the requisite qualifying service to bring a claim for ordinary unfair dismissal.
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Unfair Dismissal: extending the date of dismissal by the statutory notice period

Kilraine v London Borough of Wandsworth [2018]

A recent case has considered the issue of what amounts to a protected disclosure. In Kilraine v. London Borough of Wandsworth [2018], the Court of Appeal guided Employment Tribunals in such cases to focus on determining whether there was a "protected disclosure" and whether the disclosed information, showed or tended to show that one or more of the six specified types of malpractice had taken place or was likely to take place – for example a breach of a legal obligation.
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Kilraine v London Borough of Wandsworth [2018]

Can the menopause constitute a disability?

A recent Employment Tribunal's ruling suggests that the physical and psychological effects of the menopause could constitute a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 (the 2010 Act) Ms Davies, a court officer for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service, had experienced the onset of the menopause resulting in her becoming severely anaemic, stressed and anxious, and experiencing memory loss.
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Can the menopause constitute a disability?

‘Egregiously unfair’ dismissal costs employer £30,000

The employer, Michelin, dismissed their employee who was signed off with stress.
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‘Egregiously unfair’ dismissal costs employer £30,000

Timing and permission to amend an ET1

In the recent case of Galilee v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis the EAT held that the doctrine of 'relation back', whereby amendments take effect from the date of the original document which it amended, does not apply in the tribunal.
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Timing and permission to amend an ET1

EAT finds you cannot cherry pick from without prejudice conversations

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), in the recent case of Graham v. Agilitas IT Solutions Ltd. (Agilitas), ruled that an employer cannot rely on parts of a without prejudice conversation held in accordance with s.111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) and/or the "common law" without prejudice rule, whilst at the same time seeking to use the without prejudice rule as a shield in reference to that same conversation. S.111A of the ERA permits discussions between an employer and an employee with a view to terminating employment on agreed terms to remain confidential and inadmissible in proceedings before a tribunal for unfair dismissal.
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EAT finds you cannot cherry pick from without prejudice conversations