Where can precautions against COVID-19 constitute gross misconduct?
This case demonstrated how tribunals deal with claims of unfair dismissal where someone has been dismissed for attempting to prevent the spread of COVID-19.Read more
Mr Day-Davis, a teacher at United Learning Trust, suffered from bipolar disorder, and although medication and support largely enabled him to function on a day-to-day basis, he did experience occasional episodes of mania and extreme depression.
Following an attempt to take his own life, United Learning Trust suspended Mr Day-Davis based on an occupational health report that suggested that he was not fit to return to work, even though he, himself, believed that he was. It was stated that the decision to suspend him was made to protect his health and that the trust would not permit him to return to work until sufficient medical evidence suggested that it would be acceptable for him to do so.
In his defence, Mr Day-Davis obtained an independent psychologist report, which established that he was well enough to return to work. Upon sending this to the trust, the report was initially declined, before being accepted just over a week later.
The case resulted in the tribunal finding United Learning Trust’s decision not to immediately allow Mr Day-Davis to return to work upon receipt of his psychologist report amounted to disability discrimination.
However, had the delay been a result of the school carrying out a risk assessment prior to Mr Day-Davis returning, the outcome may have been different.
In addition to the suspension, the tribunal also considered a previous first written warning given to Mr Day-Davis for poor attendance, to be discriminatory on the basis that the school’s policy stated that disability-related absences may be discounted where appropriate.
Alongside the discrimination claims, Mr Day-Davis did argue that the trust should pay for his private medical care, but the tribunal rejected this. In exceptional cases, this could have been considered to be a reasonable adjustment; however, Mr Day-Davis had previously been receiving adequate treatment through the NHS, so he did not require a private medical care provider.
Although the trust had made some reasonable adjustments to support Mr Day-Davis with his condition, including reducing his teaching time to minimise the risk of his episodes being triggered, they were found not to have complied with the legislation in other respects.
This case highlights the importance of seeking immediate legal advice when faced with complex issues such as mental health disabilities, as many common reasonable adjustments fall below the high standards set out in the Equality Act 2010.
For more information and support with dealing with mental health in the workplace, please contact us on 01332 226 149 or complete the form below.
An Employment Tribunal published its judgement in the case of X v Y . The case offers an insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic interacts with employment law.Read more
Scroll to next section
Scroll back to the top