Royal Marine Reservist Fired After Requesting Seven Weeks Off Loses Appeal

Royal Marine Reservist Fired After Requesting Seven Weeks Off Loses Appeal

  • Date: Tuesday 30th October 2018
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An EAT has found that an employer’s decision to dismiss a Royal Marine reservist was a reasonable response to his demand to take 7 weeks off for a voluntary training activity.

The employee had informed the Company at interview that he was a volunteer reservist and an additional week of unpaid leave was agreed at the point of offering him a job.  The employee was required to get approval for all leave requests for training from a senior manager.

The employee committed to a 7-week voluntary training activity in California and subsequently requested the time off from his employer.  But, he did not say the activity was voluntary, leading his employer to believe the request was for active service which the organisation was obliged to accept.

The employer then discovered that the activity was voluntary and explained to the employee that he had presented his request for leave as one for compulsory service.  The employee then stated he would attend the training regardless of his employer’s concerns.

The employer was unable to accommodate the absence and dismissed the employee on the grounds of redundancy without holding a formal meeting and stated the request for leave would not have approved had it been clear that he wished to attend voluntary training.

The employee made a claim that he had been unfairly dismissed.  But a tribunal and subsequent appeal found that seven weeks of absence was a substantial reason for terminating his employment. 

Even though the employer did not hold a meeting with the employee the tribunals found that the employee’s commitment to the voluntary training made the employers response reasonable and an additional meeting would not have changed the outcome.

Employer Guidance:

  • Even though the company in this case successfully defended its position without holding a formal meeting we recommend following the ACAS code of practice when an employee may be given a disciplinary warning or even dismissed. 
  • A formal meeting enables the employer to ask appropriate questions to ensure all the relevant information is available before a final decision is made and this will show a decision to dismiss was reasonable given all the circumstances.

Source: Gavin Parrott, SSG

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