The recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in Carter v Aulds Bakeries Ltd highlights the importance of following a full and proper disciplinary procedure no matter what the circumstances.
In that case, the Claimant was dismissed after taking unauthorised leave as a result of being in prison. The Claimant had been employed from March 2005 and worked up until 8th September 2013. On 9th September 2013 he was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for dangerous driving and public disorder. He was released from prison on 5th November 2013. On reporting back to work the Claimant was informed that he could not come back and a dismissal letter was sent on 13th November 2013. The Claimant sought to appeal the decision but the appeal was refused. He therefore brought a claim for unfair dismissal against the Company.
Initially, the Claimant was awarded nothing at tribunal. Although they found that the dismissal had been unfair as a result of clear breaches of the ACAS Code of Practice, they also found that the Claimant had contributed to his own dismissal and the final award was deducted by 100%. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has since found that the initial employment tribunal had not given sufficient reasoning for the 100% deduction. As a result, the Claimant was awarded £650 in compensation.
ELAS Consultant Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson says: “This decision goes to show that it is important at all times to follow a full and fair procedure when dismissing an employee. In this case, the Company should have carried out an investigation, in order to find out the reasons for the Claimant’s unauthorised absence. They should have invited the employee to a disciplinary hearing to go over the issues, and following the Claimant’s failure to attend this meeting a dismissal letter should have been issued. Further, the Claimant should have been offered the right to appeal the decision. If all of these steps had been taken, not only would the Company have avoided having to pay the Claimant £650 in compensation, but it is likely that they would have also been able to avoid the significant legal costs involved in defending the claim.”
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