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Case law: Employer must wait reasonable time before dismissing employee for ill-health absence

Employers should wait a reasonable time before dismissing an employee on grounds of capability for ill-health absence, or risk a successful unfair dismissal claim, according to a recent ruling.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - December 2015

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

A disabled employee worked partly from home but the employee's new manager refused to allow this. The employee was not happy and went absent from work for a period. She was then dismissed on grounds of capability, due to her absence from work for ill-health. One of her claims was for unfair dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) found she had been unfairly dismissed. However, on appeal the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) said the ET had failed to consider a vital question, which was central to the issue of whether the dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses open to an employer, and therefore fair: was it reasonable to expect the employer to have waited longer before dismissing her?

The EAT ordered both parties to submit written statements of their respective positions so that it could then consider this issue, or give further directions.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendations

  • Employers should ensure they have waited a reasonable time before dismissing an employee on grounds of capability for ill-health absence, or risk a successful unfair dismissal claim

Case ref: Monmouthshire County Council v Harris [2015] UKEAT 0010_15_2310

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