Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

There has been little else at the forefront of most of our minds over the last year than the Covid-19 pandemic which has seized the globe and upturned it. There will doubtless be an influx of Employment Tribunal claims relating to various issues which the pandemic has thrown up for employers and employees alike.

One of these was recently considered by the Employment Tribunal at Leeds, and related to unfair dismissal as it relates to concerns about the pandemic.

The law relating to unfair dismissal

The provisions relied upon were taken from the Employment Rights Act 1996, Section 100:

  1. An employee who is dismissed shall be regarded for the purposes of this Part as unfairly dismissed if the reason (or, if more than one, the principal reason) for the dismissal is that—
    1. in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert, he left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to his place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work, or
    1. in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, he took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect himself or other persons from the danger.

The claim was that the Claimant had reasonably believed there to be serious and imminent circumstances of danger as a result of the pandemic, and that he believed that he had been dismissed because he raised these concerns.

The facts

Mr Rodgers was employed by the Respondent as a laser operator. During March 2020, he informed his employer that “unfortunately [he had] no alternative but to stay off work until the lockdown [had] eased”. His reasoning was that he had small children about whom he was concerned. There had been a suspected case of the virus at the warehouse.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

EJ Anderson dismissed the claim, as he found that the Claimant’s concern related to the pandemic generally, not to the specific working conditions of the warehouse. The judge remarked that, if a concern regarding the virus itself were enough to meet the statutory test, then any employee or worker could simply ‘down tools’ on the basis that the virus was circulating in society.

The Claimant had not raised any specific concerns with his employer about the safety of the workplace, and had not taken appropriate steps to communicate them. Crucially, in the text exchange where he informed his employer he was to absent himself from work, there was no reference to the working conditions of the warehouse. As such, the Respondent would have had no way of knowing that this was the reason the Claimant was not coming to work.

The Employment Tribunal therefore dismissed the Claimant’s claim for automatic unfair dismissal.

Did you know?

You may be able to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal for damages for injury to feelings, as well as compensation for any lost earnings, if you think that you have been dismissed for complaining about health and safety in the workplace.

Click here to read our most recent articles on disability discrimination cases

Our lawyers’ comments on the case

Caroline Lewis, Senior Associate in the employment team at Redmans, commented on the case as follows: “The Employment Judge did conclude that conditions pertaining to Covid-19 could potentially amount to circumstances of serious and imminent danger in principle, and that that every case will need to be considered on its facts and merits.”

Link to judgment: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/604a190cd3bf7f1d1281153e/Mr_D_Rodgers_v_Leeds_Laser_Cutting_Ltd_-Reserved_1803829.2020.pdf

Tagged with →  

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.80 Average

    330 Reviews

    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

    Posted 7 hours ago

    Anonymous

    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 12 hours ago

    Tanya T

    I had the pleasure of Chris and Sacha’s experience with a work matter. They made me feel at ease with the process and explained everything thoroughly. Would happily recommend Redmans especially Chris and use them if needed I’m the future. Thank you!

    Posted 13 hours ago

    Anonymous

    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

    Posted 14 hours ago

    Adrian A

    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

    Posted 14 hours ago

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Ade A

    I was surprisingly impressed by how Redmans Solicitors handle my case. From the moment I call them to the absolute end of my case, they always look after my best interest.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Malcolm P

    they were there when others were not

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service all the way through from start to finish. Really great support and guidance from the team, they secured the offer that I wanted. I can't recommend Redmans highly enough and will be sure to use their services again should the need arise.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 1 month ago

    Carmen T

    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 2 months ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 3 months ago