Employment Law - Charity's concern about a claim for unfair dismissal
  • 16th Jan 2014
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Background/scenario

Our client, a charity, had an employee who was no longer able to perform the physical side of their job as a caretaker. The employee had been unwell for a period of time, leaving them unable to do the job to the required standard.

Our client needed the role the employee occupied to be fulfilled, for the continuance of their business. As such, they wanted to dismiss the current employee and employ another individual who would be able to perform the more physical aspects of the role.

Problem/issue

The employee had a licence to occupy as part of their job. This complicated the issue of terminating their employment. As long as they were employed by our client they had the right to reside in the property. Our client was concerned that they may face a possible claim for unfair dismissal if it were to proceed with the termination. As previously mentioned, the ill health of the employee could have given rise to a claim for unfair dismissal on the grounds of disability discrimination. Our client also wanted to ensure that by terminating the employment the employee would still have a place to reside, but wanted to offer the employee’s current accommodation to any future caretaker that they may employ in their place.

Process/solution

We considered all the available options for our client before taking the somewhat unusual step of offering the employee a compromise agreement. Under such an agreement, the employee agreed to terminate their employment in exchange for monetary compensation. This was an unusual step to take given that our client was a charity. It was felt, however, that this course of action would best protect our client and was the most commercially viable option in this particular set of circumstances. This course of action also enabled the employee to secure alternative accommodation following the termination of their employment. This ensured that both parties in this matter were able to move on following the termination of the employment. Our client was extremely pleased with the outcome and we were able to deal efficiently with the complex nature of this matter and deliver an individually tailored solution that worked for our client.

What the outcome means to the client

Our client was able to employ another individual capable of performing the role of caretaker, enabling the charity to continue with its activities. The relatively modest outlay of funds under the compromise agreement secured the future of the charity and set the minds of the trustees to rest.

For advice on employment law matters please contact a member of the team.

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