Siemens Communications Ltd asked its employees to sign new terms. The majority agreed, but one employee, Mr Cummings, did not and failed to change his mind following negotiations. Eventually he was dismissed for “some other substantial reason” (SOSR). Siemens offered to re-engage Mr Cummings on new terms but he rejected this and brought an unfair dismissal claim.
The tribunal decided that the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (http://www.acas.org. uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=1047) does apply to dismissals for SOSR (in addition to conduct and capability dismissals). The tribunal found that Siemens had failed to comply fully with the Code, as it did not write a letter to Mr Cummings inviting him to the meeting at which he was dismissed. However, it was satisfi ed that Siemens had complied with the spirit of the Code. In the circumstances, the procedural failure did not make the dismissal unfair. Nor was the dismissal substantively unfair. Accordingly, the tribunal rejected Mr Cummings’s claim.
Dismissal (for SOSR) and re-engagement is a reasonably common route for effecting changes to terms and conditions which are necessary but not universally accepted by the workforce. Of course employers are advised to follow an overall fair procedure in effecting such dismissals and this case does not change that position. Following this case employers should also ensure that the process they follow satisfi es the requirements of the ACAS Code. Although a minor procedural breach is, in itself, unlikely to render unfair an otherwise fair dismissal, employers will be expected to ensure their processes comply at least with the spirit of the Code.
Cummings v Siemens Communications Ltd ET/3500013/10