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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in Bugden v Royal Mail Group Ltd that the tribunal failed to consider the issue of redeployment of a disabled employee when determining the fairness of their dismissal.

The claimant suffered from multiple physical and mental disabilities and was dismissed under Royal Mail Group's attendance management policy following 297 days absence over four years. His claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination were initially dismissed by the tribunal.

On appeal the EAT upheld the unfair dismissal claim. It held that under the Acas Guide to Discipline and Grievances at Work and (tellingly!) Royal Mail's own policy, Royal Mail should have considered redeployment as an alternative to dismissal. The EAT also noted that consideration of redeployment is an issue that a tribunal should consider for itself as a matter of course in unfair dismissal cases involving ill-health, irrespective of whether it is raised by the parties. The tribunal had been wrong when it failed to address this issue in its consideration of whether the decision to dismiss was reasonable in all the circumstances.

Take note: It will be important to consider whether an employee who is unable to carry out their existing role is capable of being redeployed before a decision is reached to terminate their employment, even if this is not something that is raised by the employee during the absence management or dismissal process.