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21-03-2014

Can an employer dismiss an employee without notice in circumstances where the employee’s contract states that it can?

Apparently not.

In Robert Bates Wrekin Landscapes Ltd v Knight, K was employed as a gardener. His contract contained a list of circumstances in which he could be dismissed without notice, which included any breach of the employer’s or customer’s security rules.

K worked for his employer at an MOD site and was aware that under its rules he could only remove property if he had a special pass.

K was summarily dismissed after a bag of bolts from the site was found in his van. The reason for dismissal was given as theft and removing goods from site, contrary to the rules.

K claimed wrongful dismissal, arguing that his employer was not entitled to dismiss him without notice. The employment tribunal upheld his claim, accepting K’s evidence that he simply forgot to hand in the bolts.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the tribunal decision, absent gross misconduct or gross negligence, an employee is entitled to notice of dismissal notwithstanding what his contract of employment might state.

Had this also been an unfair dismissal claim, it is likely that the dismissal would have also been held to be unfair, as it would have been unreasonable to dismiss for an accidental breach of the rules.

Sarah Rushton (srushton@moonbeever.com)

This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information.

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