Tribunal Cases During the Pandemic

CASE 1: CARE WORKER SACKED WHILE IN HOSPITAL WITH CORONAVIRUS SYMPTOMS.

An employee with 5 years service has been sacked when they missed a disciplinary hearing because they were in hospital with coronavirus symptoms. The employee’s husband also suffered a fatal heart attack on the same day that she was sacked from the healthcare provider (365 Support) who provide home care to people with severe mental or physical disabilities. To make matters worse, the company has now delayed the appeal until the pandemic is over resulting in further losses for the employee.

The company said that it was not aware that the employee was in hospital when it sacked her for what it described as “a serious matter.” They also confirmed that they later found that the employees husband had also passed away after the hearing.

WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS LEARN FROM THIS CASE?

  • Always rearrange a formal hearing if the employee is unavailable to attend and they are unwell.
  • Listen to the employee and what they have to say in the disciplinary hearing before making any decision.
  • Hold any appeal hearing in a timely manner

CASE 2: ELECTRICIAN WAS TOLD TO FINISH SHIFT AFTER HAVING HEART ATTACK AT WORK

An electrician who suffered a heart attack at work was asked by his Manager of BMS Electrical Services to continue his shift. The employee asked to go to hospital but his Manager ‘indicated he would prefer it if he finished his shift first’, although the Manager does not recall saying this. A few hours later another director at the company, visited the hospital and gave the employee money.

Following the heart attack, the employee developed depression and anxiety. He was unable to walk down the street without stopping frequently and was scared of driving alone in case he had another heart attack. He was off work for eight months but the tribunal heard that during his recovery his bosses never tried to contact him apart from the initial visit.

He eventually resigned after getting in an argument where he was told GPs give out sick notes for people to sit and ‘play games on the computer’.

The complaints of breach of working time regulations and disability discrimination on the basis of unfavourable treatment were well-founded but his claim of unfair dismissal was dismissed.

At a remedy hearing, the employee was awarded £12,095 in compensation for disability discrimination.

WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS LEARN FROM THIS CASE?

  • Hold welfare meetings with employees on long termsick
  • Treat all employee illness as genuine
  • Support and help employees with illness
  • Refer to Occupational Health after an employee has been off sick for 4 weeks or longer
  • Treat each case on its own individual merit. All employees are different.