A recent case concerning a Bus driver who drove through a red light was taken to disciplinary as one would expect and his employer National Express West Midlands dismissed him for this conduct issue. However, a recent ruling found this decision to be harsh resulting in Abdul Jabbar being handed down a successful result for his unfair dismissal claim. Appeals or claims such as this will look at the reasonableness of the employer’s decision, and their previous actions. In this case Mr. Jabbar claimed that his treatment was inconsistent with the treatment of other employees who had committed similar offences.
How do Employers reach fair decisions and reduce the risk of claims being made against them? We advise our clients to keep good records, up to date employee records and when considering a case to look at how similar incidents have been managed. If an employee has a previous unblemished record and has worked for the company for a considerable time, then this too should be considered. Employers expect their employees to behave in a reasonable manner at all times, therefore it is not unfair for employees to expect that of their employer.
It is not sensible to assume that because a misdemeanor has occurred it is cut and dry, consider all of the facts, ask yourself, ‘is my decision reasonable, is it fair’. Look at precedent across the business and ensure consistency and never assume anything.
In the case of Jabbar –v- National Express West Midlands of course the company would take a dim view of a traffic offence which could potentially have endangered the life of others and the matter must be considered that of gross misconduct that is not a matter to be questioned. However, what is to be questioned is how other such incidents have been managed. Therefore, it is equally important that Managers with this delegated responsibility are well trained and understand the risks of inconsistency in approach.
Taking the above approach will reduce risks to the business, hand out fair and reasonable treatment and foster a healthy working environment.
Written by Lucy Brady, Director at HPC.
For more advice & guidance from a UK leading specialist in Employment law, HR and Health and Safety Services, please contact HPC. Email us at; Support@highperformanceconsultancy.com, or call us on 0844 800 5932.