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BT call centre worker loses unfair dismissal case

March 26 2014

A BT call centre worker who had a lengthy absence record has lost his claim for unfair dismissal.

An employment tribunal has ruled that the decision to terminate the contract of Stuart Nicoll, of Carnoustie, Dundee, was within the band of reasonable responses.

Mr Nicoll began working at Telephone House in Bell Street in April 2005 as a call centre administrator but his job ended in July 2013 on grounds of impaired capability due to ill health.

Owing to an underlying health condition related to a brain function disorder and basilar migraines, he had 76 days of absence in his last year of employment and 468 days of absence in his last four years.

He was referred to occupational health and adjustments were made to his role including fixed shift patterns, allocation of a specific desk and special desk equipment.

A report in the Dundee Courier said that as his absences continued, BT decided it could no longer employ him because of his record and the cost of covering for his work.

His absences placed stress on his colleagues, affected BT’s relationships with customers and had a huge cost, the telecom giant considered.

Mr Nicoll described his medical condition as being degenerative and might result in him being wheelchair bound.

The tribunal found that BT had investigated Mr Nicoll’s situation and the employer had allowed three years before deciding to terminate his contract on grounds of capability.

The tribunal ruled that a reasonable employer would not have waited any longer than British Telecom did in dismissing Mr Nicoll.

Mr Nicoll accepted he was off work for an unacceptable length of time, but he did not think his absences justified BT’s decision that he was not capable of doing his job.

His view was that when he was at work he was capable but when he was ill he was prevented from doing the work.

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