Engineer subjected to 'sham' redundancy after work accident awarded £12,000

Blue Machinery (Scotland) Ltd was taken to court by an employee who was subjected to a 'sham' redundancy process by bosses who saw him as a 'liability'.

Engineer sacked in ‘sham’ redundancy over disability caused by work accident awarded £12,000 Google Maps

An engineer who was deemed disabled and made redundant after suffering an accident at work has been awarded £12,000 in compensation.

Blue Machinery (Scotland) Ltd was taken to court by Tommy Glen who was subjected to a “sham” redundancy process by bosses who saw him as a “liability”.

The 63-year-old service engineer had worked for the company for 18 years before he was told his job no longer existed at a meeting he believed was going to be about him returning to full duties following an accident.

Mr Glen was working at the company’s base in Stirling when he suffered an accident on February 5, 2021, which led to him requiring hospital treatment and suffering ongoing back pain.

While an accident form was filled in at the time, there was no health and safety risk assessment carried out.

Months later, the company carried out a “retrospective” investigation of the accident but didn’t involve Mr Glen or show him the completed document.

The engineer told bosses he wasn’t taking medication for the injury but was still suffering pain and seeing a physiotherapist three times a month at his own expense.

A second accident unfolded on August 2022 which led to Mr Glen suffering an injury by overstretching his back while he assisted with the loading of a lorry. He was forced to take two weeks off work as a result.

When he returned to work, he confirmed that he wasn’t taking medication but kept painkillers on him in case of an emergency. 

He reduced his hours from 50 hours to 40 hours a week and returned to work mainly in the workshop to accommodate his condition.

An employment tribunal heard that Mr Glen wasn’t sent for an occupational health assessment by his employers who also didn’t get any information from his GP regarding his fitness to work.

While working reduced hours, Mr Glen worked mainly doing driving, painting and moving around machinery as well as working overtime.

He told bosses that he was taking co-codamol on and off but only at weekends and outside of work.

Unbeknownst to Mr Glen, concerns were raised by his line manager and the health and safety manager about how his condition was impacting his ability to carry out duties. 

It was suggested then that his condition was “going to get worse”.

The finance manager Austin Carey then decided that Mr Glen’s employment should be terminated.

During a short meeting with Mr Glen in which he thought his return to full time hours would be discussed, Mr Carey asked him how his health was as he had heard it was “not good” and asked the employee whether he was thinking of retiring.

Mr Glen was then told that he had been selected for redundancy.

The tribunal heard that there had been no consultation with Mr Glen about a potential redundancy situation and that the redundancy was a “sham”.

Employment judge Jones concluded that the view that Mr Glen’s back condition was likely to deteriorate further and impact his ability to perform his duties was “without medical evidence”.

The tribunal report added: “He was told he was to be made redundant and he was given no other options. There was no discussion regarding what might happen if Mr Glen did not accept the redundancy position because there were no other options made available to the claimant.

“The tribunal determined that the group health and safety manager and Mr Glen’s line manager had concluded by November 11 that he was likely to become a disabled person by reason of a progressive condition. 

“The Tribunal was satisfied that both the finance manager and managing director perceived Mr Glen to be a disabled person by November 11, 2022.”

No enhancement was offered to Mr Glen beyond his statutory entitlement which the Tribunal described as not “a situation where an employer was seeking to find a mutually agreeable termination of employment for a long serving employee who was likely to be dismissed otherwise.”

The judge said that it “suggested an employer who wished to terminate the employment of an employee who they believed would become a liability and who had not been able to perform his full duties for a period because of an injury sustained while at work.”

Blue Machinery Scotland (Ltd) was ordered to pay Mr Glen compensation of £12,331 including £276 as compensation for loss of earnings, £500 in respect of loss of statutory rights and £9,500 as injury to feelings for discriminating against him.

An uplift of 20% was because of the failure of the company to follow the ACAS Code of Practice.

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