Disciplinary procedures for short servers: Scott-Davies v Redgate Medical Services

Scott-Davies v Redgate Medical Services, EAT website, 9 November 2006


Background


Mr Scott-Davies was employed by Redgate Medical Services (RMS) for less than a year when he was dismissed. He brought a tribunal complaint contending that, not only had RMS failed to provide him with a statement of his terms and conditions of employment, but that it did not apply the statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures when dismissing him. He alleged that, had RMS followed such procedures, he might not have been dismissed.


Employers are obliged by law to provide employees with a statement of their employment terms within two months of their start date. If not, a tribunal can make a declaration as to what the particulars might be. The tribunal cannot award financial compensation solely for this omission, but can increase compensation as part of another claim (such as unfair dismissal).


Failing to follow the statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures in dismissals either results in the dismissal being automatically unfair, or an increase in compensation. However, Scott-Davies did not have sufficient service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, and had not alleged any other breach of his employment rights.


The question for the tribunal was whether Scott-Davies could challenge RMS’s failure to follow proper procedures.


Decision


The tribunal decided it had no jurisdiction to hear Scott-Davies’ claims when no underlying claim of unfair dismissal or other breach of his employment rights existed. He appealed, unsuccessfully.


The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) agreed with the tribunal in finding that there is no free-standing claim for an alleged failure to follow the statutory procedures. The only way in which such a breach can be challenged is if it accompanies an alleged breach of another employment right, which was not relevant here. Scott-Davies dropped the claim for clarification of his employment particulars since his employment had ended.


Comment


While emphasising that it is good practice for employers to use the procedures for all employees, the EAT concluded that it could not create new employment tribunal rights where none existed. While the case confirms that statutory procedures need not be followed for short servers, ignoring them carries huge risks – if Scott-Davies had any other legitimate claim, for which qualifying service was not required, the result would have been very different.

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