June 30, 2016

Reinstatement Following Dismissal

In McBride v Scottish Police Authority [2016] UKSC 27, the Supreme Court considered whether an Employment Tribunal had been wrong to order the reinstatement of an employee on restricted duties.

The Employment Tribunal found that Ms McBride had been unfairly dismissed from her role as a fingerprint officer from the Scottish Police. It ordered her reinstatement to her previous role on the same restricted duties as she had been prior to her dismissal. This decision was overturned by two appellate courts which found that the Employment Tribunal had been wrong to impose the reinstatement on restricted duties. On final appeal, the Supreme Court held that the Employment Tribunal had not been wrong. The Court found that the Tribunal had not sought to impose a contractual limitation on Ms McBride’s reinstatement, but was merely reflecting the status quo at the time of dismissal (which had existed for several years prior to that date). The Supreme Court also clarified that whilst Employment Tribunals must take into account the practicability of compliance by an employer when considering a reinstatement order, this does not need to be a conclusive assessment. It is sufficient for the Tribunal to have reasonable grounds to think it likely to be practicable for the employer to comply with such an order.

Reinstatements are very rare in the U.K. and this case is a helpful reminder that they are a possible alternative to compensation in the event of unfair dismissal.

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