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In the recent case of Tijani -v- House of Commons Commission, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the original tribunal decision that an employee’s dismissal for persistent lateness was fair. This decision came even though there was no disciplinary policy and procedure included in the evidence.

The employee worked as a cleaner until her dismissal in 2019 for persistent lateness, with these instances continuing even after formal warnings about her tardiness. The final written warning was noted by the EAT in making its decision, as was the position that poor timekeeping is generally deemed as misconduct. The lateness was often only a minute or two, but the Tribunal accepted the respondent’s submission that it is incumbent on employees to arrive on time and ready to work. The employee’s argument that comparable colleagues were treated more favourably than her was not found to be supported with evidence. The EAT considered the fact that, strangely, it did not have a copy of the disciplinary policy but did not deem this to affect the fairness of the dismissal.

The appeal was rejected by the EAT, and amongst other conclusions it held that:

  • Although the disciplinary policy should have been included in the disclosure, this did not affect the fairness of the decision;
  • The sheer number of lateness instances and warnings meant the conduct dismissal was fair; and
  • The tribunal’s finding that the lateness was often only a few minutes, did not render the decision unfair given the obligation that employees must be ready to work on time.

The takeaways from this case are that errors like not disclosing the relevant policy are unlikely to impact the overall fairness of a dismissal. Persistent lateness is a conduct issue given the inherent expectation for employees to be ready to work on time; and dismissal is more likely to be viewed as fair where clear disciplinary warnings due to lateness have been previously given.



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