Jaguar Land Rover employee who skipped 800 shifts was unfairly dismissed a UK tribunal finds

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A Jaguar Landover shift worker from Birmingham, England has won an unfair dismissal tribunal despite costing the company almost £100,000 in sick pay. Mr V Rumbold who had worked for the firm since 1999 was absent for 800 shifts before Land Rover made the decision to terminate his employment.

During 2018, Rumbold was diagnosed with avascular necrosis disease, which caused his hip to deteriorate, resulting in chronic pain. Because of his hip pain, Rumbold was absent from work from March 2018 till August the same year. After claiming to be ready to work again he underwent a return to work interview with his supervisor where support options were offered as per the companies procedures.

After reviewing the various options made to accommodate Mr Rumbold he did not go back to his contractual car assembly role. Instead, he went through a number of job trials under Jaguar Land Rovers restricted worker procedure. After continuing to miss more shifts an investigation into Rumbold was opened. On 7 December, Rumbold attended a performance review with Mr J Carter, a manager at Jaguar Land Rover, during which Carter described Rumbold’s history with the company as “the worst absence record I have ever seen”.

Shortly after JLR made the decision to terminate Rumbold’s employment on the grounds of conduct and capability Mr Rumbold decided to take legal action. Rumbold brought claims of disability discrimination, age discrimination, unfair dismissal and unpaid wages to the employment tribunal on 9th April 2019. The claims of age discrimination and unpaid wages were later withdrawn.

Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing Mr Rumbold not being a fit and proper person to work for Jaguar Land Rover, Judge James Johnson ruled than Rumbold had indeed been unfairly dismissed. Showing the world his unfathomed wisdom the judge said: “Unfortunately, no good reason was offered throughout the process which justified why it was reasonable to approach the claimant’s case in that way. The respondent simply saw an opportunity to consider the claimant’s employment and did not consider how the Attendance Management Program should be used in relation to the claimant, given that he had not been taken through it in accordance with its processes.”

He concluded that any award granted to Rumbold is subject to a deduction to the compensatory award and Rumbolt’s contributory fault. 

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