Kurumuth v NHS Trust North Middlesex University Hospital UKEAT/0524/10

This case is about unfair dismissal in the context of the immigration rules and the right to work.  Ms Kurumuth was a healthcare support worker in the xray department of the hospital in North London.   

She came from Mauritius with her family in 1992 with a work permit.  In 1997 she was refused further leave to remain in the UK but appealed.  When appointed by the hospital in 2003 to a permanent position she produced to the hospital a letter from the Home Office that she was entitled to continue to take on paid work until her appeal was determined.   

Following the introduction of the new immigration systems the hospital made a check on her status and with her directly.  It was dissatisfied with her response and made checks via the UK Border Agency and took legal advice.  It was decided to put her through a disciplinary procedure and she was suspended and then dismissed without notice on 29 January 2011.  Ms Kurumuth claimed unfair dismissal and breach of contract.   

Before the tribunal she was successful in her unfair dismissal claim but was awarded only the basic award of £2,275.  Her compensation claim was nil and she was unsuccessful in her claims for breach of contract.  The Respondent conceded that the loss of notice pay and the withdrawal of pay during the period of suspension should have been paid amounting to a further £5,270 approximately.  Ms Kurumut claimed that the Tribunal ought to have decided her immigration status but that was not upheld.  The question was whether the hospital had reasonable grounds for her dismissal in light of its genuine belief that she was not entitled to work.  As it did not have a clear statement from UKBA the hospital had a genuine reason for her dismissal.  

Key point:  It is reasonable for an employer to dismiss an employee of uncertain immigration status.