Revival of Employment Contract following Dismissal Appeal
Thursday 16th August 2018
The Court of Appeal in the case of Patel v Folkstone Nursing Home considered the legal effect of a contractual disciplinary appeal procedure in an employment contract regarding Mr Patel’s dismissal for misconduct.
Mr Patel was employed as a healthcare assistant and was dismissed by a letter of 2 April 2014 on the grounds of misconduct, having allegedly been found sleeping on duty and falsifying resident’s records. Mr Patel followed the contractual appeals process he was entitled to, but did not set out the remedy he was seeking. He was informed by letter dated 24 June 2014 that his appeal had been successful.
Mr Patel was not satisfied with the terms of the letter, which he said left important unresolved including failing to deal with the allegations of falsifying records. As a result he refused to return to work. He then filled claims with the Employment Tribunal, including a claim of unfair dismissal.
At first instance the ET found he had been dismissed as he could not be contractually bound by the outcome of an appeal and secondly the letter containing the revocation of the dismissal was unclear.
On appeal, the EAT overturned the decision and found that he had not dismissed. It held that it was not necessary for the disciplinary procedure to prescribe what the effect of a successful appeal would be. It was implicit in the terms of the employment contract governing disciplinary appeals that a successful appeals that a successful appeal would revive the employment contract.
Finally, when heard by the Court of Appeal, the EATs decision was upheld. The Court of Appeal confirmed that is an appeal against dismissal is lodged successfully the effect is that both employer and employee are bound to tray the employment relationship as having remained in existence throughout.
This decision acts as a reminder to Employers to ensure that any decision to the outcome of an contractual appeal should be stated in clear terms and deal with each of the matters which gave rise to the dismissal in the first place. Falling to do so could give the employee grounds for a constructive dismissal claim owing to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.
Stating that a contractual appeal is ‘successful’ will likely be considered by the Court to; automatically reinstate the employee, revive the contract as having remained intact throughout and entitle the employee to be paid all back pay and benefit entitlement. It will also be likely to prevent an employee from succeeding with an unfair dismissal claim, as it will be difficult for the employee to establish a dismissal.
If you require further information on the above developments please do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of the Employment Team.