How do you tell whether a dismissal is fair or unfair? Take the case of one Mr Hadden, sacked for not returning to his shift ... from a function arranged by his employer, Van den Bergh Foods, to thank him for loyal service. The employment tribunal found the dismissal to be fair. Applying the so-called 'range of reasonable responses test', it concluded that the dismissal was a reasonable response to Haddon's misconduct. Haddon appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which reversed the tribunal's decision, rejecting the reasonable responses test, which has been applied by tribunals for many years.
Unless the higher courts restore the status quo, this case bolsters the prospects of sacked employees winning tribunal claims and comes hot on the heels of the reduction of the qualifying period for bringing a claim and the increase of the compensation limit to pounds 50,000. Pity the employer!
Michael Burd and James Davies at Lewis Silkin, solicitors. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.