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Tag Archive

Our top 10 memorable cases

We’re in reflective mode in this, SCE’s 10th year in business, and in this blog, we’re looking back at 10 memorable cases – those where we have sometimes been tested but have overcome problems, learned lessons, strengthened relationships and delivered successful outcomes for our clients.  We have even laughed at times!  Guiding our clients to a successful outcome is a key part of what we do and gives us a great deal of job satisfaction. 

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Addressing Discrimination: bringing change to the workplace

In the wake of recent events, there is increased momentum in addressing racial inequalities at work. Whilst this is extremely important, businesses must not forget to take account of employment law and although positive discrimination is prohibited, positive action is lawful and there are plenty employers can do to tackle inequality of all kinds and particularly racial equality.

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Dismissing An Employee With A Disability

Work related stress translating to long term absence is growing and the impact to business’ is significant. So, when it comes to dismissing an employee due to ill health it can be tricky if it is to do with a potential protected characteristic in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. 

Dismissal For Sickness

Case Study

The company is not happy with the performance of an employee who has only 9 months service and in addition has been off sick with stress and depression. The company wishes to dismiss the employee, as they have less than 2 years’ service and the employee cannot bring an unfair dismissal claim. Is the company ok to dismiss?

The answer is not a clear yes or no, the employee may have a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, and they may have a claim for disability discrimination.

Equality Act 2010

So, how is a disability defined?

According to the Equality Act, a person has a disability if:

  • they have a physical or mental impairment
  • the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities

What does ‘substantial’, ‘long term’ and ‘day to day’ mean?

  • ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial, for example it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
  • ‘long-term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months
  • ‘normal day-to-day activities’ include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

There has been a recent tribunal case, Parnaby v Leicester City Council where an employee was impaired by depression caused by work related stress. The tribunal ruled that he did not fit the definition of a disability. They said that his condition didn’t last over 12 months. The Claimant appealed and the EAT overruled the decision and said the tribunal should have considered whether the impairment was likely to last 12 months or whether it might recur in the future. The tribunal made the assumption that removing the work-related stress by dismissing the employee, this would remove the impairment. 

This judgement helps to clarify that the whole definition of a disability would have to be considered when making decisions on an employee’s employment.

Termination Of Contract

So, when considering a termination of contract for an employee who has a disability, employers should ask the following clarifying questions:

  • Does the person have a physical or mental impairment?
  • Does that impairment have an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities?
  • Is that effect substantial?
  • Is that effect long-term and the person would be affected in the future?

Medical practitioners can help you answer some of these questions, and if there is any doubt that the condition is a true disability, then other alternatives to dismissal would need to be considered.  For example, reasonable adjustments or alternative employment.  If none of these options are viable, then termination could be possible under incapacity. 

The process however is not straightforward, and we would encourage you to seek advice prior to taking action in such cases. 

If you need help and advice managing an employee who has a disability, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

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Tips For Tackling Long-Term Sickness Absence

Dealing appropriately with employees on long-term sickness absence from the outset can help achieve an earlier return to work. Where a return is ultimately not possible, it will reduce the prospect of a dispute escalating. These are our top three tips for tackling long-term sickness absence:

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A Guide For Employers: Family Friendly Working

From shared parental leave to part-time working, in this guide we explore five things all employers need to know about family friendly working.

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3 Things We Learnt In Law This Week (7 February 2019)

Consultation On Extending Redundancy Protection For New Parents

A recent study by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that one in nine returning to work after maternity leave were fired, made redundant, or treated in a manner which forced them to leave their job. The study also found that as many as 54,000 women per year are losing their jobs as a result of their pregnancy or maternity leave.

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3 Things We Learnt In Law This Week (31 January 2019)

Employee Was Not Unfairly Dismissed Over Offensive Facebook Posts About Director

An employee’s “extremely derogatory” social media posts about his boss’s generosity in awarding a Christmas bonus did not justify the employer’s failure to give him notice pay when he was dismissed, the Manchester Employment Tribunal has ruled.

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3 Things We Learnt In Law This Week (13 December 2018)

Is veganism a “philosophical belief” that should be protected by law?

An employment tribunal is being asked to decide whether veganism is a “philosophical belief” and therefore, should be protected by law.

The landmark case, which is listed for March 2019, will help determine whether veganism is a “philosophical belief” and therefore, should be legally protected.

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Our All New 5 Step Guide to Reducing Sickness Absence in the Workplace and Preventing Discrimination Claims

Managing sickness absence is a pivotal part of the successful running of your business. Letting sickness absence get out of control can mean that be business is not as productive, or efficient, as it could be. However, mismanagement of sickness absence can lead to a disability discrimination claim which could cost your business thousands of pounds.

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