Dismissal after two years’ sick leave was fair

A DHL employee who was dismissed after being off sick for two years has lost an employment tribunal. The HGV driver had been employed by the logistics firm for nine years until his dismissal.

According to an employment tribunal appeal, at the time of his dismissal he had not worked for two years, having become unwell following a workplace incident that occurred in 2017 (details of which weren’t revealed in the tribunal hearing).

He was asked if he would consider an alternative role within the company, but said he felt too unwell and feared his commute after being advised not to drive by DVLA. The employer suggested that he work from one of the company’s closer sites while he was unable to drive but the employee felt unable to return to any form of work because of his ill-health.

Months of infrequent meetings were held to discuss a likely return to work but the employee remained of the view that he was not fit enough to work. An occupational health practitioner also ruled that the employee was “not fit to undertake alternative duties but suggested that there was no evidence to indicate that the employee had undergone all reasonable treatment options available to address his condition.

A further meeting was scheduled, prior to which the employee was warned that dismissal was a potential outcome. As he was not able to suggest any alternative to remaining absent, the employee was dismissed with notice on the grounds of capability.  The employee subsequently raised a claim of disability discrimination. The employment tribunal ruled that DHL’s decision to dismiss was “a proportionate means of achieving its legitimate aim”. 

Whilst capability dismissals are often emotional and contentious, 121 HR Solutions has significant experience in supporting clients in such situations. For further information please contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk.

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