Ssekisonge v Barts Health NHS Trust
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has confirmed in this case there is not a particularly high threshold for an employer dismissing an employee because of a 'substantial reason'?
The Claimant was a nurse who, having come to the UK, obtained indefinite leave to remain and then British citizenship, had her citizenship revoked when the Home Office had concerns over her true identity. However, her leave to remain (and work) in the UK was unaffected. The Trust dismissed the Claimant after a disciplinary process relating to concerns over her identity and her conduct. The employment tribunal found that the principal reason for dismissal was that the Trust could not be certain of the Claimant's identity. It was fair for a 'substantial reason' (SOSR); given the Claimant's role, certainty as to her identity was essential.
The EAT rejected an argument from the Claimant that, in the case of a 'no fault' SOSR dismissal, there was a particularly high threshold for employers to make dismissal reasonable. The EAT noted case law that in such circumstances employers should not be expected to investigate too far beyond what official information they reasonably obtain about an employee from a responsible public authority, but it did note that the position on fairness might differ on different facts, for example if it is a case not involving a nurse.
This decision will be of comfort to employers who have to consider dismissing an employee under the fair SOSR banner. These types of dismissals are quite common and can be for a number of reasons outside of the usual, conduct, capability, redundancy and illegality reasons. It would be difficult for employers if they had to show a higher level of investigation for these types of cases, but the EAT has confirmed that is not necessary.
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