The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that a dismissal was not unfair despite the failure to make reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee in Knightley v Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Trust.
It was agreed that Ms Knightley was disabled and, after a capability procedure was completed by the Trust, she was dismissed.
Ms Knightley wanted to appeal the decision and asked for an extension of the time normally given to do so.
This was refused and, as part of her claim to the employment tribunal, she said this was a failure to make a reasonable adjustment.
The employment tribunal agreed. Despite this, they went on to decide that the dismissal was fair, saying that any appeal would not have changed the outcome to dismiss her.
What did the EAT decide?
Ms Knightley appealed on several points, one of them being that, having found a failure to make a reasonable adjustment, the employment tribunal should have found the dismissal to be unfair.
The EAT, however, disagreed. They held that the test for whether or not an employer should have made a reasonable adjustment for someone’s disability is different from the test for unfairness in a dismissal situation.
The fact they found the employer to be short of the mark on the former did not mean they had unfairly dismissed Ms Knightley.
Why did the tribunal decide this?
The employment tribunal was entitled to find that there were facts that meant the failure to make a reasonable adjustment did not result in an unfair dismissal.
The employment tribunal had explained in sufficient detail their reasoning as to why any appeal would not have made a material difference and therefore the finding of a fair dismissal was upheld.
What implications does this case have for employers?
However, it should be appreciated that the Trust were still liable for the failure to make reasonable adjustments and Ms Knightley could be compensated separately for that failure.”
Key takeaways for employers
Paul continued: “Employers should still ensure that any reasonable adjustments are considered with a disabled employee and, if they cannot be agreed, sufficient and good reasons provided as to why this is the case.”
Employment law advice and guidance: Stay up to date
Throughout the pandemic, our team of bright lawyers have been publishing guidance on the ever-changing regulations. The timely updates are published on our website in plain English and shared on our social media channels.
To be the first to hear about any updates, you can register for our free newsletter (and choose the topics you want to hear about) here.
Employment solicitors in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Ringwood
At Frettens, we offer a free initial appointment for all new clients. This usually takes place over a coffee with one of our bright lawyers at our modern, conveniently located offices, but can also be over the phone or video call.
Related article: Is protecting pay of a disabled employee a reasonable adjustment?