Does our University want the right to unfair dismissal?
The University of Leeds wants to include ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ as a cause for dismissal into Statute VII. This contradicts the University’s claim to be guided by the principle of fairness.
In an Employment Tribunal, if a dismissal is deemed to be unfair, then the employer must usually be prepared to re-engage the employee or pay compensation awarded by an Tribunal. This is not necessarily the case in circumstances brought about by dismissal for ‘some other substantial reason’.
In the case of Phoenix House Ltd v Stockman & Anor in 2016, it was deemed in a wrongful dismissal hearing that the employee’s dismissal was found to be both procedurally and substantively unfair. The employer appealed but the appeal was thrown out. Nonetheless, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance matters does not apply to dismissals for “some other substantial reason” and the Tribunal could consequently not award any compensation.
One reading of the University’s current manoeuvres in light of this case law is that our Vice-Chancellor is in effect arguing that – in order to pursue the University’s principles of fairness, openness and transparency – we should move to a position of being able to dismiss someone unfairly and get away with it.