ACAS Code of Practice and ill-health dismissals

Holmes v Qinetiq

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures does not apply to ill health dismissals.

The Claimant was dismissed on the grounds of ill health. It was conceded that the dismissal was unfair because of the failure to obtain an up to date occupational health report. At the remedy hearing, the Claimant contended that the ACAS Code applied and that due to the unreasonable failure to follow the code he was entitled to an uplift to his compensatory award. The employment tribunal did not agree with the Claimant, who then appealed to the EAT.

The EAT agreed with the employment tribunal that the ACAS Code did not apply. Rather, the ACAS Code applies to all cases where an employee's alleged act or omissions involve culpable conduct or performance on their part that requires correction or punishment e.g. misconduct and poor performance. It was difficult to see how ill health fell into this category.

In Practice

"The position would be different where the ill health leads to a disciplinary issue such as a failure to comply with sickness absence procedures. In that situation the disciplinary procedure is invoked to address alleged culpable conduct," advises Kate Fretten, Employment Partner.

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.