Can I claim unfair dismissal on medical grounds?
Oct 20, 2017
Illness can strike at any time, and its effects can be difficult to control.
So employees who find themselves unable to do their job properly, or having to take time off work, because of a medical problem often feel aggrieved when they are dismissed because of it. But dismissal on medical grounds will not necessarily be unfair. Your employer may well be justified in dismissing you, and the dismissal may be fair, if the circumstances call for it and if your employer goes about it properly.
You should not simply be handed a P45 out of the blue; that is rarely appropriate in any situation – none more so than where ill-health is concerned. An employer who wants to avoid unfairly dismissing should not react unreasonably to your long period of absence or to short, repeated absences. They should follow set procedures, which usually include getting medical evidence about your condition and its likely prognosis before considering dismissal. They should consult with you and look for alternative arrangements that might be put in place to enable you to return to work, or to work in a different capacity or under different terms.
The point about all of this is that each employee’s situation must be assessed individually; no two people are exactly the same and nor do the effects of the same condition strike in exactly the same way. If you feel that your employer took the decision to dismiss you without having fully considered your circumstances – or if the procedure they followed didn’t enable you to understand what was happening, you weren’t warned that you might be dismissed, or you weren’t given an opportunity to have your say (for example) - then it would be worth exploring the possibility of bringing a claim for unfair dismissal. Two prerequisites: you must have worked for your employer for at least two years, and you would need to bring the claim within three months of the date on which you were dismissed.
Our advice for now? Speak to an employment law specialist. They’ll tell you whether they think you have a claim, and what sort of claim that is (disability discrimination is another possibility, if your medical condition meets certain criteria). They’ll also help you take the procedural steps that protect your position and begin to make up for what has happened.
Our understanding Litigation team can be contacted by phoning 01264 353411, emailing; email@example.com or by filling in our no obligation, online enquiry form.
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