COVID-19: A case of unfair dismissal?
In the recent case of Accattatis v Fortuna Group (London) Ltd an employment tribunal held that it was not an automatic unfair dismissal where the employer dismissed an employee who refused to come into work claiming to have safety concerns about attending the workplace work during lockdown.
Where an employee is dismissed (or resigns) for refusing to attend the workplace where they reasonably believe there are circumstances of serious and imminent danger, they may be able to claim that they have been automatically unfairly dismissed unders100(1)(e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Mr Accattatis was an employee at Fortuna Group (London) Ltd which distributes PPE. He had requested to work from home during the lockdown stating that he did not feel comfortable using public transport during the initial lockdown. He had also requested to be furloughed on numerous occasions and this was refused due to the fact that the his job was still needed doing because the company were providing an essential service.
Mr Accattatis’ claim failed on the basis that the company had offered him the option to take holiday or unpaid leave during this time and he had refused therefore not complying with s100 (1) (e) of the Employment Rights Act to protect himself from the danger he was suggesting that he needed protecting from.
The full case can be found here. Even though the decision is not binding it may give companies an idea on where they stand with returning to getting employee’s back to work.
Get in touch
If your business needs legal support with any issues arising from COVID-19, please get in touch with Lauren Cullen.
All information in this update is accurate at the time of writing. It is meant for general information only and is not legal advice.