Employers have received a reprieve from “disaster” with an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision, experts have claimed.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned an earlier unfair dismissal ruling against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
The bank dismissed an employee known as MrsS McAdie after long-term absence for stress.
The original tribunal found that Royal Bank of Scotland had caused the stress that led to McAdie’s absence from work.
It then found that the bank had unfairly dismissed her, as a reasonable employer would not have found itself in this situation.
However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that RBS had not dismissed McAdie unfairly, as there was nothing it could do to bring her back to work.
Katie Clark, partner at law firm McDermott Will & Emery, told Personnel Today: “This is a boost for employers. It would have been a disaster if the EAT had upheld the original decision.
“Any employee called in for disciplinary procedures or told they were performing badly could claim they had been stressed by it and could potentially not then be dismissed for absence resulting from that stress,” Clark continued.
Employment law is not clear cut about when an employer can dismiss an employee on long-term absence, but internal procedures should be stuck to, and reasonable efforts made to find them alternative employment, Clark said.