Unfair Dismissal A case law example

Barber who fired an employee for calling in sick regularly on Mondays was forced to pay her £3,453 in compensation as the employment tribunal judge ruled “unfair dismissal” for failure to follow a process.

Salon owner, Christian Donnelly fired Celine Thorley from Acute Barbers based in Cardiff University Students Union in October 2021 further to pattern of absence emerging from Thorley on a Monday after she had a good weekend.

Thorley attended a Halloween party the weekend before she was dismissed and Donnelly told her to make sure she was in work on Monday. On Monday morning Thorley sent Donnelly a text message stating that she was unable to come to work as her stomach was “killing” her. Donnelly replied that he was saking her after “4 years of phoning in sick on Mondays because you’d had a good weekend”.

Thorley proceeded to take Donnelly to Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal where the tribunal judge upheld that the dismissal was indeed unfair. This decision was based on the fact that Donnelly had failed to follow a process and give Thorley formal warnings in line with the ACAS code of conduct.

The fact that Donnelly was a very small business owner and had been struggling financially for some time further to the pandemic was not taken into consideration during this ruling.

Donnelly represented himself at tribunal and had to sell his car to pay £700 for 2 hours of legal advice before the tribunal.

Not following process can and does cost small businesses thousands of pounds.

We work with clients to make sure that when such difficult situations arise they have the tools, skill and confidence to deal with it appropriately. We can assist you in achieving the right outcome when it comes to your people, without leaving you open to unnecessary risks like this business owner.

If you are a small business owner who has a team, however small and no HR support to prevent a situation like this, please get in touch.

Buy a HR Compliance Bundle       Get Help Becoming Compliant


Author: Anna Roberts

Anna Roberts

Anna is a HR Consultant at StaffLeave, heading up our HR Services division, and likes to contribute ways to help you get the most of your holiday management, improve well-being and work-life balance.