It is well established that an employee can resign and claim unfair dismissal where there have been of a series of events, that taken together amount to a fundamental breach of contract. But what is the position for employers at the end of their tether with an employee?
The High Court has recently confirmed in the case of Kearns v Glencore UK Limited that what is sauce for the goose is indeed sauce for gander and employers can also rely on the “last straw” doctrine. Mr Kearns was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct, the “last straw” being his absence at an important meeting. Taken, alone, this would be unlikely to justify dismissal but in the context of repeated lateness and failure to attend previous important meetings the Court agreed that enough was enough, and the dismissal was justified.
Whilst the decision is positive for employers it is important to remember that the fundamental principles governing the fairness of warnings and dismissals must still be applied. An employer wishing to rely on a series of conduct will need to have raised concerns regarding the previous conduct and there must have been an investigation into the conduct to satisfy whether the concern is reasonably justified. Even though the “last straw” may only be a minor breach the overall chain of breaches must still be cumulatively serious enough to warrant dismissal.
If you would like any further information on this topic please contact us through the following link: http://www.edwincoe.com/services/employment.asp
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