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EAT rules that dismissal was fair following relationship breakdown despite the absence of a formal dismissal procedure

Nuances of fair dismissal with the recent EAT ruling in Mr GM v. CGI IT UK Ltd. Discover how exceptional circumstances can lead to termination without formal procedures, and explore the intricate details of this case involving a Director/Consulting Expert at CGI. Uncover the rationale behind the tribunal’s decision to uphold CGI’s actions, shedding light on employer responsibilities and the complexities of employee relations in today’s workplace.

In a recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) concerning Mr GM v. CGI IT UK Ltd, an uncommon exception to the typical procedures for fair dismissal was highlighted. The case underscored that under specific extraordinary circumstances, an employer might terminate an employee’s contract without adhering to formal written warnings or providing a right to appeal. The EAT upheld the decision of the Employment Tribunal to reject claims of unfair dismissal and victimisation against CGI IT UK Ltd, despite the absence of a formal dismissal procedure for Mr. GM.

The case revolved around Mr. GM, a Director/Consulting Expert on 5G technology at CGI. After contracting COVID-19 and suffering long-term effects, he was signed off sick. During his absence, CGI decided to discontinue its 5G projects, initiating a redundancy process that jeopardized Mr. GM’s role. His declining health prevented his participation in consultation meetings, and tensions escalated when he raised a grievance against a colleague’s redundancy. Despite attempts to salvage the situation, including offering alternative roles, Mr. GM remained resistant and expressed distrust in CGI.

Following a phased return to work and failed attempts to resolve the situation, CGI terminated Mr. GM’s employment without a formal warning or right of appeal. He subsequently brought tribunal proceedings alleging unfair dismissal, among other claims. The tribunal concluded that CGI reasonably believed the relationship had irretrievably broken down and dismissed the claims.

The EAT upheld this decision, citing exceptional circumstances where procedural steps might not affect the outcome, as established in the Polkey case. It noted CGI’s efforts to accommodate Mr. GM and the futility of further procedures. While emphasising the employer’s responsibility to repair relationships, the EAT found CGI’s actions genuine.

This case serves as a reminder that in rare circumstances, employers can fairly dismiss employees without following standard procedures, provided they genuinely believe in the futility of procedural steps and have made reasonable efforts to mend relationships. However, such departures from procedure require substantial justification and depend heavily on the specific details of each case.

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