An employer’s internal appeal process is perhaps one of the most unique aspects of UK law. Normally in our legal system, decisions cannot have retrospective effect and can only apply once communicated to the other party.

In the case of Salmon v Castlebeck Care, the Employment Tribunal disallowed an employee’s claim that she was still employed following an internal disciplinary appeal. The appeal panel had made no express decision that she should be reinstated but had merely deemed the decision to dismiss “unsafe”. They did not communicate this to the employee, but instead recommended a settlement be explored.

The EAT said the Tribunal's decision was a wrong one. The EAT held that the employee had been automatically reinstated by the internal appeal because:

  1. There is no need for an appeal panel expressly to order “reinstatement”. The appeal panel’s decision that the dismissal was “unsafe” meant the appeal against dismissal had succeeded. The employee was, from that moment, reinstated.
  2. The reinstatement did have retrospective effect.  The employee’s contractual and statutory position was as if she had never been dismissed.
  3. There was no need for this to be communicated to the employee to be effective. Otherwise it could be subject to abuse.  An employee has a right to be informed of the result of an appeal and any deliberate failure to do so will not assist the employer.