There are five potentially fair reasons for dismissal from employment being: conduct, capability, redundancy, breach of legal restriction and ‘some other substantial reason’ (“SOSR”). This last category acts as a catch-all for the majority of employee dismissals.
Recently, there has been a growing trend amongst employers in seeking to dismiss employees under this ‘catch all’ provision. One such case is that of Governing Body of Tubbenden Primary School v Sylvester.
In this case a School tried to establish SOSR for dismissal due to a loss of trust and confidence between the headteacher and his dismissed deputy. Mrs. Sylvester, the dismissed Deputy Headteacher, lodged a claim for unfair dismissal against the School.
Unfair dismissal is a term used to describe an act of employment termination without good reason or contrary to necessary legislation. In this case, a lack of warning about the potential consequences of her continuing friendship with Mr Quinney – a former teacher of the school, arrested and suspended in 2008 for possessing indecent images of children (not including children from the school) – and, the School’s failure to inform her of an increasing number of parents’ complaints, were the factors that led Mrs. Sylvester to believe that the actions which led to her subsequent dismissal were unfair, especially since in 2009 the education authority has decided that no action should be taken against her for maintaining her friendship with Mr Quinney.
Mrs Sylvester was dismissed due to: her continuing friendship with Mr Quinney (and its effect on the School’s reputation), the safeguarding risk she brought to the School on account of this friendship, and the breakdown in trust and confidence between herself and Mr Youlton (the headteacher) which was considered irreparable and ‘inevitably made it difficult’ for her to continue as his deputy.
The tribunal upheld Mrs Sylvester’s unfair dismissal claim and rejected the School’s argument that Mrs Sylvester herself had contributed to her dismissal. Consequently, she was awarded £50,000 in compensation.
This case serves as not only an example of the increasing frequency of employers seeking to use ‘SOSR’ as a fair reason for dismissal but also as a warning that unless there are clear, fair and proportionate grounds, employers should not seek to rely upon ‘SOSR’ when seeking to dismiss an employee.
Attwells’ offers a free no-obligation initial appointment so that you can understand the process involved in fairly dismissing and employee and the options available to you, at no cost to you. To make an appointment please call Lloyd Clarke
now on 01473 746050
or e-mail him at email@example.com