Acas Code does not apply to ill health dismissals

23 June 2016

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures does not apply to ill health dismissals.

In the case Holmes v QinetiQ the Claimant was dismissed on the grounds of ill health. It was conceded that the dismissal was unfair because of the failure to obtain an up to date occupational health report. At the remedy hearing, the Claimant contended that the Acas Code applied and that due to the unreasonable failure to follow the code he was entitled to an uplift under s.207A (Effect of failure to comply with Code: adjustment of awards) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The EAT agreed with the employment tribunal that the Acas Code did not apply. Rather, the Acas Code applies to all cases where an employee's alleged act or omissions involve culpable conduct or performance on their part that requires correction or punishment e.g. misconduct and poor performance. It was difficult to see how ill health fell into this category.

The position would be different where the ill health leads to a disciplinary issue such as a failure to comply with sickness absence procedures. In that situation the disciplinary procedure is invoked to address alleged culpable conduct.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin which provided the details of this case.