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Useful reminder regarding internal appeals

View profile for Phil Cookson
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A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision provides a reminder to employers about the effect of internal appeals against disciplinary sanctions.

In Folkestone Nursing Home Ltd v Patel the EAT considered the effect of an internal appeal following an employee’s dismissal for alleged gross misconduct.  The main issue for the EAT to decide was whether the appeal outcome was “complete” in that it confirmed certain allegations against the employee were not founded but did not comment on all of the allegations which had previously been upheld.  Notwithstanding the employer’s silence on some of the allegations on appeal, the fact that the employee was told his appeal was upheld and he could return to work was sufficient to make the original dismissal “vanish”.

Whilst the case involved a specific issue about the extent of the appeal decision, the case is a general reminder of the importance of internal appeals.  Whilst most employers will generally recognise the need for an appeal as part of a fair disciplinary procedure, it is important to identify when an appeal is well founded and a disciplinary sanction should be reversed.  It may well be better (in terms of saving time and cost in avoiding an unfair dismissal claim) to uphold an appeal rather than carry on regardless.  The EAT, in this case, appears to have taken a practical approach to the effectiveness of the appeal rather than becoming entrenched in analysing the technical aspects of it.