The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that a dismissal of an employee due to stress-related absence was fair despite the illness being attributable to the conduct of the employer.

In this case the employee had taken long-term sick absence because of stress caused by bullying and mismanagement at work. The EAT held that the real question was not whether the employer had caused the incapacity but whether the employer acted reasonably in all the circumstances. The cause of the employee’s capability is a factor for the tribunal to consider when determining whether the dismissal is fair.

The EAT also found that when an employer has caused an employee’s incapacity, it will be expected to “go the extra mile” in finding suitable alternative employment for the employee, and/or to put up with a longer period of absence than would otherwise be reasonable. Employers should bear this in mind when dealing with the rising number of cases of long-term work-related stress absence.

Royal Bank of Scotland v McAdie