Larissa Bourgi reviews Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd 1803829/2020

The Employment Tribunal has been overhauled with employment claims given the Covid-19 pandemic. Recently, the Employment Tribunal has handed down a landmark decision during this pandemic-inhabited year in the case of Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd 1803829/2020. The case concerned the law relating to automatically unfair dismissal and specifically referred to section 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 as the Claimant had not accumulated the necessary two years’ continuous service to acquire rights under section 98(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The Claimant, Mr Rodgers, was employed by the Respondent, Leeds Laser Cutting Limited, when the pandemic began its descent on the nation. The Claimant expressed his concerns to the Respondent by stating he would not be returning to work until the pandemic had subsided. The Claimant informed the Respondent of his new-born baby and his elder child who was classed in the ‘high risk’ category for Covid-19 purposes. The Respondent initially accepted this from the Claimant, however, the Claimant was later informed that he was dismissed from employment. The Claimant took the view that his dismissal was based upon his self-isolating and responded by making a complaint about unfair dismissal. As part of the complaint, the Claimant averred that he held reasonable belief there was serious and imminent danger as a result of the pandemic if he were to return to his workplace.

The Employment Tribunal took issue with the lack of complaints the Claimant made to the Respondent expressing his concerns and lack of requests for socially distance measures to be put in place in the warehouse. Judge Anderson took note that the spacing provided by the Respondent was adequate for the Claimant and his colleagues to be socially distant whilst at work. Furthermore, the Employment Tribunal highlighted that the Claimant failed to ask for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) thus seemingly accepted the standards of safety the Respondent implemented.

Employment Judge Anderson dismissed the Claimant’s complaint regarding automatic unfair dismissal based on the Claimant’s failure to express his specific concerns relating to Covid-19 and safety measures in the workplace together with the Claimant’s changing personal statements provided to the Employment Tribunal. Judge Anderson expressed the Claimant’s concerns as general fears relating to the pandemic in place of specific issues with the Respondent’s implementation of Covid-19 safety measures.

For further information on this topic or on any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372 303444 or email or visit our Linkedin page.

Larissa Bourgi

This information was correct as of September 2021

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