Folkstone Nursing Home Ltd v Patel
In the case of Folkstone Nursing Home Ltd v Patel the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered whether an Employment Tribunal had erred in holding that an employee had not been dismissed.
Mr Patel was employed as a healthcare assistant by Folkstone Nursing Home Ltd when he was charged with sleeping on duty and falsifying residents’ records. His defence was that he was sleeping during a rest break and he had been unable to complete the daily record sheets because of an interruption.
An investigation took place and a hearing was conducted with an external consultant, following this hearing Mr Patel was dismissed for gross misconduct. Mr Patel appealed this decision and his internal appeal was heard by an external manager. Following investigation as part of the appeal, Mr Patel was sent a letter advising him that the original decision to dismiss him had been revoked on the basis that he had been on an unpaid break when he was asleep and so was not breaching any company rules or procedures. He was to be contacted to discuss a date to return to work.
Mr Patel did not return to work as he was dissatisfied with the reasons provided in the letter as he felt these were incomplete and did not deal with the allegation that he had falsified records. He felt that he was owed a full explanation.
Mr Patel issued proceedings for unfair dismissal.
The employment judge found that Mr Patel had been dismissed and that the revocation of dismissal in the appeal outcome letter was unclear and left out significant issues, in that it did not address what effect the second issue would have on his employment. The appeal outcome did not overturn the dismissal.
Folkestone appealed this decision on the basis that they had clearly communicated to Mr Patel that his dismissal had been revoked.
The EAT allowed the appeal and issued a declaration that Mr Patel had not been dismissed.
The EAT disagreed with the employment judge’s finding that the letter advising Mr Patel of the outcome of his appeal was unclear. The EAT observed that the letter expressly stated that the decision was revoked and it was clear that Mr Patel was entitled to return to work.
» Unless an employee makes it clear when they bring an appeal against dismissal that they are seeking some other outcome, this case tells employers that it is implicit that the employee is asking for a finding that the dismissal decision was wrong and that their employment should be reinstated.
» If an employee is seeking another outcome they need to set this out clearly in their appeal letter or at their appeal hearing.
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