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Jessica Piper, employment law specialist at Ashtons Legal, reports on a failed unfair dismissal claim

In the news this week is the case of Allette v Scarsdale Grange Nursing Home Ltd where an employment tribunal has ruled that the dismissal of a care home employee for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 was not an unfair dismissal.

The home planned a vaccination of all staff and residents but this was delayed as they were hit by a Covid-19 outbreak with 33 staff and 22 residents contracting the virus and sadly a number of deaths amongst the residents.

The claimant, Allette, was one of the 33 staff to contract Covid-19.

Jessica Piper, employment law specialist at Ashtons Legal
Jessica Piper, employment law specialist at Ashtons Legal

The claimant was a care assistant in a nursing home providing residential care to dementia sufferers.

In January 2021 the home made vaccination mandatory as a condition of employment (prior to the mandatory vaccination scheme coming into force).

The claimant was warned of disciplinary action if she refused to take the vaccine, in return stating that she did not trust the vaccine and she had read about Government conspiracies online.

Ashtons Legal
Ashtons Legal

She also stated that it was against her Rastafarian beliefs to have non-natural medication and she had natural immunity from having already contracting the virus.

Following a disciplinary process, the claimant was dismissed by the home for gross misconduct for failing to follow a reasonable management instruction (to be vaccinated).

The claimant brought an unfair dismissal claim and cited Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Right to Respect for Private Life).

Despite the Employment Tribunal not doubting the claimant’s genuine fear and scepticism about the Covid-19 vaccines, they found in favour of the employer stating that they acted within the band of reasonable response and that the dismissal was proportionate in the circumstances.

It should be noted that this case is a first instance decision and therefore is not legally binding on another tribunal. However, the facts offer clear guidance that it may be possible to fairly dismiss in certain circumstances where vaccination is required and refused.

-- For assistance with vaccination policies and other employment queries contact jessica.piper@ashtonslegal.co.uk or call 01603 703073.