23 March 2017 #Employment
The case of O’Brien v Bolton St Catherine’s Academy concerned a teacher who, after 14 months of absence following an assault by a pupil, was dismissed.
The Employment Tribunal determined that she had been unfairly dismissed. In doing so it focussed on the fact that the employer had not produced satisfactory evidence of the adverse impact her absence had on the business and had ignored favourable evidence presented during her internal appeal hearing suggesting she may shortly be fit to return to work. This decision was initially overturned on appeal but subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal.
This Judgment is perhaps unsurprising, however, it is a reminder to employers that the disruption caused by an employee’s absence is a relevant consideration when deciding to dismiss and adequate evidence should be available to support any assertions in this regard.