Case in Focus – Lothian Leisure

scale of justice

Gibson v Lothian Leisure ET/4105009/2020

What happened?

The claimant, Mr Gibson, worked as a chef in a restaurant owned by Lothian Leisure. The restaurant closed temporarily in March 2020 due to the first COVID-19 lockdown, and Mr Gibson was furloughed. Before re-opening the restaurant, the employer asked Mr Gibson to come into work. Mr Gibson was concerned about catching COVID-19 at work and passing it onto his father, who was clinically vulnerable. When Mr Gibson raised concerns about the lack of PPE or other COVID-secure workplace precautions, the employer’s response was robustly negative, and he was told to “shut up and get on with it”.

With no prior discussion, the employer dismissed Mr Gibson summarily by text message on 30 May 2020. It did not pay him any notice pay or accrued holiday pay. The message said that Lothian Leisure was changing the format of the business and would be running it with a smaller team after the lockdown.

The Hearings

An employment tribunal held that an employee had been unfairly dismissed under section 100(1)(e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 for raising health and safety issues about lack of PPE or other workplace COVID-secure measures, out of concern for his clinically vulnerable father.

Take-away points

  • It is essential to have the correct risk assessments in place, within every organisation.
  • It is not appropriate to dismiss someone via text message, there is a process that needs to take place in order to make it a fair and correct procedure.

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Posted in Blog, Covid-19, HR, HR Covid-19.