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The importance of a fair procedure

In the case of Harvey v Vista Hotels Limited, Mr Harvey, the former Head Chef of Fermain Valley Hotel was dismissed by his employer following an incident resulting in him serving an 18 month prison sentence for biting and spitting blood at police officers. In an arguably surprising decision by the Employment Tribunal, Vista Hotels Limited was ordered to pay Mr Harvey the sum of £11,000 in damages for loss of earnings for failing to follow fair procedure.

Mr Harvey issued proceedings against Vista Hotels Limited for unfair dismissal. He argued that they had failed to follow the correct procedure in respect of his dismissal. Vista Hotels Limited confirmed that, whilst he was serving his sentence, a letter was sent informing him that his employment had been terminated with immediate effect. However, Vista Hotels Limited were unable to provide a copy of this letter, nor were the prison aware of its arrival.

The Tribunal concluded that, whilst Vista Hotels Limited was entitled to conclude that Mr Harvey’s conduct warranted dismissal with immediate effect, it expected the employer to conduct a proper investigation and to carry out a fair disciplinary process.

This case serves as a reminder to all employers of the importance in following a fair procedure when disciplining and dismissing its employees. Had Vista Hotels Limited followed a fair procedure, they could have saved themselves £11,000.

This article is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. Knight Polson Limited trading as QualitySolicitors Knight Polson accepts no responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.

If you would like any advice on how to protect your business from similar claims or training on how to conduct a fair disciplinary process, please contact our employment solicitor Emily Yeardley via email or on 023 8064 4822.

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