Employment Law firm Deminos has issued a warning to employers that they could face paying out tribunal compensation to sacked members of staff, even if they have been found guilty of a criminal offence.
The warning comes on the back of a case where a hotel had to pay its former head chef £11,000, even though he was jailed for GBH after biting and spitting at police officers.
James Harvey, 37, was convicted of causing GBH after biting two special constables in Guernsey and spitting his victims’ blood over officers who arrived to arrest him following an altercation with a colleague.
Bosses at Fermain Valley Hotel dismissed him after he was jailed. But, an employment tribunal ruled they hadn’t followed proper procedures and demanded that they pay him £11,000.
Ed McFarlane, employment law specialist at Deminos says that while Guernsey is an independent jurisdiction, its law on unfair dismissal has similar principles to UK law.
“The tribunal accepted that the chef could have been fairly dismissed for his conduct, but criticised the hotel for not carrying out its own investigation into the incident, for not getting the employee’s version of events, and for not informing the employee of his dismissal until nearly six months after his arrest,’ he adds.
McFarlane says that the hotel could not show that the decision to dismiss the chef was communicated to him as their copy of the dismissal letter had been lost and the prison it was sent to had no record of receiving it.
Dismissals don’t take effect until employees are told, or they have every reason to believe they have been dismissed.
He adds, ‘Cases like this are rare, and it is disappointing the Guernsey tribunal did not significantly reduce compensation because of what is called ‘contributory conduct’ in the UK, which could have led to a reduction of up to 100 per cent.
‘But, this extreme case does show the importance of following a formal procedure, no matter how outrageous the circumstances, and of good record keeping to document steps taken.’
Further reading on tribunals