Land Rover Loses Claim to Sick Employee

13 January 2021

A Jaguar Land Rover employee, Vic Rumbold, has won his case for unfair dismissal after missing 808 days for numerous reasons over a 20 year period.

Rumbold, who had in excess of 20 years employment with Jaguar Land Rover, was unable to attend work for a variety of reasons ranging from health issues, an injury at work, and an alleged assault. His continued absences and failure to complete trial roles on his return to work led Jaguar Land Rover to dismiss him in 2018 on grounds of conduct and capability.

Mr Rumbold also experienced problems with his hips in 2018 and was thereafter diagnosed with avascular necrosis disease. Mr Rumbold suffered such excruciating pain that he was unable to work from 12 March 2018 to 13 August 2018. A hip replacement operation was required and meant that Mr Rumbold was unable to attend the workplace for a further 12 weeks.

Jaguar Land Rover were aware of Mr Rumbolds disability and provided him with a number of trials for alternative roles. The alternative roles were not suitable and placed Mr Rumbold at a disadvantage in comparison to other employees who did not have his disability.

The Tribunal Judge Johnson concluded that Jaguar Land Rover did not follow correct procedures before Rumbold’s dismissal and failed to properly apply Attendance Management Procedures. The Judge argued that, had they followed their processes correctly and taken into account the relevant medical advice which they had access to at the time, they would have been able to apply appropriate alternative measures to accommodate Rumbold’s return to work.

Mr Rumbold also won his case for disability discrimination through Jaguar Land Rover’s failure to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate his disability at work.

Therefore, it is important for employers to remember that following the correct procedure, whether that be for potential misconduct or capability issues, is vital. Whilst most employers would view such as high number of absence as a reasonable reason to dismiss an employee, failure to carry out the correct procedures before dismissing such an employee can deem such dismissal unfair, this is evident in this case.

In addition, employers should remember their duty to disabled employees to make reasonable adjustments where possible. This is an ongoing duty and the measures should be reviewed frequently. Therefore, it is paramount to keep an open, amicable, and frequent dialogue with the affected employee to accommodate their return to work as swiftly and effectively as possible in the circumstances.

Should you require advice on any employment issues, please feel free to contact our Employment team here.

This article was written for Redkite Solicitors by Tessa Charles, Employment Law Legal Advisor. To find out more about Tessa visit her website profile here.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.