Employment Cases Update

Gardner v The Coopers Company & Coborn School UKEAT/0235/19/BA

Date published: 20/10/2020

Appeal against the ET’s decision that the Claimant had been unfairly dismissed, and cross-appeal against the ET’s failure to apply a reduction to the award for loss of statutory rights. Appeal and cross-appeal allowed.

The Claimant worked for the Respondent as a part-time teacher and her position became redundant. She started a four-week trial of a possible suitable alternative role, and was informed that, if the new role turned out not to be suitable, she would retain the right to a redundancy payment; and the redundancy date was extended to 31 December. The role was not suitable and the trial period was ended prematurely. The Respondent sent an email confirming notice of redundancy on 11 October, but the Claimant did not receive it until 7 November when she returned from holiday, which amounted to less than the required three months' notice. On the Claimant's claim of unfair dismissal, the ET found that there was a genuine redundancy, but the dismissal had been unfair because the Respondent had failed to afford the Claimant an appeal; and, in accordance with the Polkey principle, it reduced elements of the Claimant's award of compensation by 90%. The Claimant appealed, asserting that the ET had not fully considered the dates when notice began to run and the issues as to when she saw the dismissal letter. The Respondent cross-appealed on the ground that the ET had not applied the Polkey reduction to the award for loss of statutory rights.

The EAT held that the ET's judgment had not been sufficiently clear in relation to the issue of the validity of the notice of termination; accordingly, the appeal would be allowed and the matter remitted to a fresh ET. On the cross-appeal, the EAT found that the ET had erred, and it directed that the same reduction should apply to the loss of statutory rights as to the other heads of compensation.

Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.