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Employee in Australia can claim unfair dismissal

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Lodge v Dignity & Choice in Dying

The EAT has held in this case that an employee who returned to Australia, at her own request, but who continued to work for a UK company, could bring an unfair dismissal claim. Ms Lodge was an Australian citizen employed jointly by both respondents. After having commenced her employment on Oxford Street, London, her mother became ill and she sought to return to Australia. Ms Lodge put forward a proposal to the respondents whereby she would continue in her role as Head of Finance remotely from Australia. The respondents agreed to this proposal which operated from 2009 until Ms Lowe’s resignation in 2013. She sought to bring claims for unfair dismissal and subjection to detriment for having made a protected disclosure. The employment tribunal held that she could not. The EAT held that the tribunal had erred in its decision. It was particularly impressed by the fact that all of the work Ms Lowe did from her computer in Melbourne was for the respondents’ benefit, that the respondents had not disputed her contention that she had no right to bring a claim in Australia and that a grievance she had raised while in Melbourne had been dealt with in London.

In Practice

This case is a further example and warning to employers that, just because an employee works abroad, does not mean they cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the UK. Kate FrettenEmployment Partners says, “It is not the location of the employee that is the decisive factor (although it will be one), but whether the employee has close enough ties to the UK in order to bring the claim.” In this case it was clear Ms Lowe did.

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and Kate or Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.