Refusal of Postpone Disciplinary
Friday 7th September 2018
In Talon Engineering v Smith the EAT found that whilst employer had a potentially fair reason to dismiss, the decision to dismiss was procedurally unfair due to employers refusal to postpone the disciplinary hearing for the second time.
Mrs Smith was alleged to have referred to a colleague as a ‘knobhead’ in an email to a customer. Following an investigation meeting, a disciplinary meeting was scheduled. This was initially postponed due to Mrs Smith being unwell and then on holiday. The disciplinary meeting was then rescheduled, however Mrs Smith being unwell and then on holiday. The disciplinary meeting was then rescheduled, however Mrs Smith requested it to be postponed again in order that her chosen trade union official could attend. The employer refused to postpone and dismissed Mrs Smith in her absence.
This decision acts as a reminder that getting the process of a dismissal right is essential when seeking to avoid claims of unfair dismissal. Employees should be afforded the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official to disciplinary or grievance hearings.