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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49866
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My brother has recently been dismissed from his job. He

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My brother has recently been dismissed from his job. He had been working for a small recruitment company, and was approached in mid August by one of the owners who expressed his concern regarding my brother's wellbeing, as he had noticed changes in his personality. My brother was due 2 weeks' holiday, so agreed that they would talk when he returned in early September. As soon as he returned on the Monday morning, he was called in to the 2 directors, and they expressed concern that he was suffering from some kind of depression. They implored him to seek help, and told him to do so there and then. He left the office and managed to get an appointment that day. He was diagnosed with depression and signed off for a week. After one week, he had another appointment and was told that the medication would take a while, and he was signed off for a further 3 weeks. When he returned to the doctor after the 3 weeks, they acknowledged that he seemed to be making progress, but it was still early days, and he was signed off for a further 4 weeks (end of October). He kept his employers informed throughout and they were pleased that he was making progress. However, in mid October, they called him and informed him that his contract was being terminated with immediate effect. The only reason he was given was that it was becoming increasingly difficult to explain his continuing absence to clients.
He was given no opportunity to attend a meeting or put his point of view.
The main problem is that he was there for less than 2 years, he was there for approximately 1 year and 8 months. Is there anything he can do regarding unfair or constructive dismissal?
This has obviously been rather stressful for him, and set him back in his treatment.
Many thanks
If he has been continuously employed at his place of work for less than 2 years then his employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, he will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that his employer can dismiss him for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because he was trying to assert any of his statutory rights (e.g. requesting paternity leave, etc.). In the event that the reason for dismissal fell within these categories, then the dismissal will either be automatically unfair, or there will be a potential discrimination claim. If the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions then he would not be able to challenge it and his only protection would be if he was not paid his contractual notice period, because unless he was dismissed for gross misconduct, he would be entitled to receive his contractual notice period. If he did not have a written contract in place he would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. His employer would either have to allow him to work that notice period and pay him as normal, or they will have to pay him in lieu of notice. So from what you have said the only thing he could challenge them in is if he had a disability and was dismissed because of it. Depression can amount to a disability but he needs to ensure that he meets the criteria for it. In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’.The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. I will break this definition down:• Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;• Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;• Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;• Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.)If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. In addition, their employer would have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if they are likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage when compared to non-disabled employees. What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances. Below are some examples:• making adjustments to work premises;• allocating some of the employee’s duties to others;• transferring the employee to fill an existing suitable vacancy;• altering the employee’s hours of work;• allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment connected to their disability;• acquiring or modifying specialist equipment;• providing supervision or other support.If someone who is disabled is being treated unfavourably because of their disability or their employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments it would potentially amount to disability discrimination and could make the dismissal automatically unfair. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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