John Bourne & Co v Weedon UKEAT/0150/17/JOJ

Appeal against a finding that the Claimant was constructively dismissed by reason of redundancy and that he was entitled to a redundancy payment accordingly. Appeal allowed and remitted to fresh Tribunal.

The Claimant was a lorry driver. The Respondent closed a lorry depot and asked the Claimant to move to another depot. He refused and took out a grievance. The Respondent found a new place for him to keep his lorry which was closer to home and generally acceptable to him but also said that as a "quid pro quo" he should sign a new standard contract of employment. The Claimant indicated he would not sign the new contract and the Respondent said he could carry on working (from the new place) on the old contract for three months while the new terms were discussed; the Claimant agreed to that proposal. A month later he resigned saying that the terms and conditions associated with the new place were unsuitable. The EJ expressly found that he was prepared to work from the new place. The EJ found that (a) the requirement to move workplace may not be a fundamental breach of the employment contract but that with the new contractual terms it amounted to a fundamental breach of contract, (b) the Claimant had resigned in response to the breach making it clear that he could not accept the new terms, (c) there was accordingly a constructive dismissal, and (d) the dismissal was by reason of redundancy (i.e. because the employer had ceased to carry on business at the closed depot) and fair, so that (e) the Claimant was entitled to a redundancy payment. The Respondent appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal. The EJ went wrong in law by failing to properly consider (a) the consequences of her finding about the Claimant's agreement to continue on his old terms for three months, and (b) the reason for the constructive dismissal. What was important so far as the resignation, and therefore the constructive dismissal, was concerned, was the fact that the Claimant just did not want to accept the new terms. The move, which was caused by the closure of the old place, was really just the occasion rather than the cause of the employer proposing the new terms.

Published: 04/01/2018 11:03

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