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Electrician was unfairly dismissed

Electrician was unfairly dismissed

Tuesday 07 April 2020

Electrician was unfairly dismissed

An electrician who was retired by his employer after he turned 65 has been awarded a £16k payout following an Employment & Discrimination Tribunal.

Electrical Installations (Guernsey) Limited has been ordered to pay John Robert, an employee with 50-year's service, £16,736.

Mr Robert and Mark Le Mesurier, Managing Director of Electrical Installations, gave contrasting accounts of how the retirement had been handled.

Mr Le Mesurier said that following a back injury in early 2017, he had conversations with Mr Robert that year, and in 2018 about the employee's "ailing physical condition, during which the question of his retirement was also discussed".

He said that what they had discussed left him in "no doubt that Mr Robert was well aware that he could be made to retire on his 65th birthday" and that it was "his intention to retire of his own accord anyway".

Mr Robert had only been given "light work" to do since the injury and would be made to retire upon completion of a job he had been subcontracted to do, two months after his 65th birthday in August 2018. 

In light of the health issues and other factors - which were not raised appropriately with Mr Robert at the time they occurred - Mr Le Mesurier had made the decision to retire him in June 2019, but did not convey this message to him at the time.

Mr Le Mesurier and his wife said they had met Mr Robert at his house on 11 September to discuss his retirement, but Mr Robert denied this had ever happened.

Royal Court

Pictured: The Employment and Discrimination Tribunal is a form of local court proceedings.

Mr Robert said the first he had heard about his retirement was when he went into his boss' office on 16 October to find out where he was working next.

It was at this time that he was told there was no more work for him, which came as a "shock".

After asking for the reasons for his dismissal to put in writing, Mr Le Mesurier wrote that Mr Robert was being retired due to a "lack of suitable work" and that Mr Robert would work four weeks' notice from 18 October - the date on which both parties agreed to his retirement.

In completing his evidence, Mr Le Mesurier admitted that he had not documented any of the discussions which he had said took place with Mr Robert about his retirement before 16 October.

Tribunal Chair Christine Le Lievre pointed to this lack of documentation in her panel's decision notice, highlighting one particularly crucial example.

"The respondent's stance with regards to having held a key one-hour discussion with Mr Robert on 11 September 2018 was found to be inconsistent when compared to evidence on Mr Robert's time sheet."

No witnesses were called by the firm to attest to Mr Le Mesurier's statement that Mr Robert had been treated in the same way as others reaching retirement age.

"The tribunal recognises the respondent is a small employer and acknowledges that small employers are unlikely to have professional in-house HR personnel," said Ms Le Lievre in her conclusion.

"However, the respondent offered no explanation as to why they did not have the knowledge or experience of how to handle employment matters, or the resources to take advice when needed.

"When dismissing an employee the tribunal considered that any reasonable employer would, in similar circumstances have held, as a minimum, one pre-arranged meeting, at an early stage, to discuss with an employee their future with the company, to allow them to be accompanied, and take some notes of the meeting.This would be even more important if the respondent considered the discussion was not to the employee's liking."

"In considering all the  circumstances, including the discrepancies in the respondent's evidence regarding the meeting on 11 September 2018, the tribunal finds the applicant's evidence and statements to be persuasive."

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