Was the Claimant unfairly dismissed by reason of redundancy because the Respondent did not consider the possibility of putting the Claimant on furlough?
Yes, held the EAT in Lovingangels Care Home Ltd v Mhindurwa.
The Claimant was a live in carer. The person she cared for went into hospital. In normal circumstances, the Claimant would have moved to care for another of the Respondent’s clients. However, owing to the pandemic there was limited scope for such movement. The Respondent did not have another client for the Claimant and proceeded to dismiss the Claimant for reason of redundancy.
The tribunal held that the dismissal was unfair because the Respondent did not consider the possibility of putting the Claimant on furlough for a period to see if the situation would improve or whether there might be another client.
The EAT found that there was no error in law. Determination of a case that occurred during the pandemic did not require a variation to the law of unfair dismissal, holding that it was robust enough to deal with such exceptional circumstances. Put another way, there was no requirement for the tribunal to adopt a special approach to dismissals occurring in the context of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Employment Judge was entitled to apply the same approach to furlough as he would to any possible alternative to dismissal that an employer, might, in appropriate circumstances, be expected to consider if acting reasonably.
Thanks to Kate Lea of didlaw for preparing this case summary.