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We report in this latest update on two recently reported cases of note:-
Reasonable Adjustments: Duty Not Triggered When Employee Unfit to Return to Work
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that an Employment Tribunal was entitled to find that an employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments was not triggered where a sick employee had not given any sign that she would be returning to work. The employee had given the impression that she would not be able to return any time soon, and her medical certificates continued to state that she was “unfit for work”. The EAT accepted the Tribunal’s finding, but the onus had been on the employee to suggest a lower grade role, with a phased return, in the event that she became fit to do some work (Doran vs Department for Work and Pensions, UKEAT/0017/14).
Importance of evaluating Employer’s Reason for Dismissal “As a Whole”
The EAT has considered the fairness of a dismissal where the reason is a “composite” one resulting from the cumulative effect of a number of incidents. After remitting the case for a re-hearing, the EAT made clear that the Tribunal had erred in focussing only on some of the incidents in question and whether they in themselves could amount to a justifiable reason for the dismissal.
In such cases, the Tribunal’s task is to look at the employer’s reason for dismissal as a whole, since that will be the actual reason that the employer has at the time when it dismissed the employee. It does not matter that the Tribunal considers only some of the grounds for dismissal to be justified (Robinson vs Combat Strasse UKEAT/0310/14).
Both these cases are helpful for employers who are (i) unsure about when the duty to make reasonable adjustments is triggered and (ii) having to dismiss an employee due to the cumulative effect of a number of incidents.
Andrew Macmillan, Solicitor, Motor Industry Legal Services