Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd [2022] EAT 69

Appeal against the dismissal of a claim of automatic unfair dismissal brought pursuant to section 100(1)(d) or (e) of the ERA 1996. Appeal dismissed.

The claimant worked in a workplace which was a large warehouse-type space about the size of half a football pitch in which usually only five people would be working when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. A few days after the first lockdown was announced, he developed a cough which he put down to dust in the atmosphere (a colleague had been off work for several days having contracted Covid). The claimant went home and 2 days later texted the respondent that he would stay off work until the lockdown had eased as he had a child with health issues. A month later he claimed that he had been sacked for self isolating and asked the respondent to send his P45 which they did. The claimant then brought a claim of automatic unfair dismissal, asserting that he had left and/or had not returned to his place of work because he reasonably believed there were circumstances of danger that were serious and imminent arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic, which, in the terms of section 100(1)(d) ERA, he could not reasonably have been expected to avert. The ET dismissed his claim, saying that the claimant’s decision to stay off work entirely was not directly linked to his working conditions; rather, his concerns about the virus were general ones, which were not directly attributable to the workplace. The claimant appealed.

The EAT dismissed the appeal. On the facts of this case, the ET did not err in law in concluding that the claimant’s dismissal when he did not return to work because of concerns related to the Coronavirus pandemic was not automatically unfair pursuant to section 100(1)(d) ERA.

Published: 13/05/2022 09:25

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