Opinion

'No reasons' - a fair decision?

23rd June 2017

The words unfair dismissal are arguably two words that strike fear into the minds of many employers and HR managers, not least due to the financial and organisational repercussions that can emanate from a successful claim.

In Elmore v Darland High School, the employee was a teacher and had been so employed for some time. In an official report, it was found that the school was significantly underperforming in maths. Following the appointment of a new head of mathematics, the headteacher became concerned with the employee’s performance.

The employee was provided with support and as part of the support and assistance, the employee was to be observed in eight lessons. One of those lessons was required to meet the standard of “good”. During the observation period, the employee was deemed “adequate” on five occasions and “inadequate” on three occasions. A capability hearing was convened and the employee was dismissed despite her argument that she had been deemed to be adequate (and not “good”).

The employee appealed the decision however the employer upheld the decision but failed to provide any reasons for upholding it. The employee claimed unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal (ET) and the dismissal was found to be fair. The employee appealed the decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the basis that the decision was unfair and that there had been no opportunity to test the reasonableness of the appeal panel’s decision. .

The EAT dismissed the appeal, finding that the original hearing was robust and fair and that the school was entitled to set a standard of “good”. Despite the fact that the appeal panel gave no reasons in their letter of appeal, the employee had provided no new evidence for consideration or points for appeal. The appeal panel were therefore able to rely on the decision of the disciplinary panel.

Employer Considerations

Elmore is quite an interesting case and indeed, fact specific. The EAT commented that had new evidence been presented, the appeal panel may have failed to discharge its evidential burden if sufficient reasoning was not provided.

Arguably, sufficient reasoning should be provided at each stage of the disciplinary procedure in any event, in order to avoid any allegation of undue process.

 

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