Employment tribunal rules employee who refused to attend work during lockdown fairly dismissed

In one of the first tribunal cases to emerge from the first national lockdown, an employment tribunal has ruled that an employee had been fairly dismissed for refusing to come into work.

Mr Rodgers had worked for Leeds Laser Cutting as a laser operator since June 2019. He texted his employer on 29 March 2020, stating that he was going to stay off work “until the lockdown has eased”. His concern was centred on the health impact on his children, one of whom was at high-risk of contracting coronavirus because of sickle-cell anaemia.

The employer had conducted an independent risk assessment which identified risks and made recommendations such as social distancing, cleaning, and staggering breaks. These recommendations had been put in place. But Mr Rodgers did not contact his employer again, or turn up for work, and on 24 April 2020 he was dismissed.

The tribunal’s decision, although not binding on other employment tribunals, is significant for a number of reasons. For more on the reasoning behind the decision, and what other employers can learn from the tribunal’s approach, head over to our sister blog, hr law live.

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