When refusing to work can justify a dismissal


The employee had been off work on long term sick due to a back condition. His employer refused to allow him to return back to his previous role but assigned him to lesser duties on the same pay. This was held to amount to disability discrimination.

However, having been given no indication when he could return to his previous role, the employee refused to do any work and was subsequently dismissed for misconduct. He argued that his dismissal was discriminatory because it was his disability which had prevented him from doing his previous role. The Court of Appeal disagreed. His refusal to do any work was a breach of contract on his part, which justified his dismissal for misconduct

The court noted "it is not the law that an employee who is the victim of a wrong can in all circumstances simply refuse to do any further work unless and until that wrong is remedied. He may in some circumstances have to seek his remedy in the courts." The options open to such an employee would be to resign, work under protest, or bring tribunal proceedings.

Rochford v WNS Global Services.


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