The EAT has held in First Leeds v Haigh that a capability dismissal will normally be unfair if an employer who provides an enhanced pension on ill-health retirement dismisses an employee before taking reasonable steps to ascertain whether an employee is entitled to ill-health retirement.
Mr Haigh worked as a bus driver for First Leeds. In 2005 he suffered two suspected strokes and went on long-term sick leave. First Leeds dismissed him. An Employment Tribunal criticised First Leeds for its insufficient consideration of the medical evidence at each stage of its procedure and, in particular, its failure to consider whether Mr Haigh's medical condition was permanent and would therefore entitle him to take ill-health retirement under First Leeds' pension scheme. First Leeds appealed but the EAT dismissed the appeal.
Impact on employers
Before dismissing an employee for long-term sick leave, employers should look at all potential options, including ill-health retirement and should ensure that they have the necessary medical information to evaluate each option.