No, said the EAT in dismissing the appeal in Charlesworth v Dransfields Engineering Services Ltd (DES).

Mr Charlesworth was the Branch Manager of one of DES’s four branches. He was diagnosed with renal cancer in the summer of 2014. He was off work from October 2014 until 15 December 2014. By the end of November 2014, DES had identified the possibility of restructuring the business in a way that removed Mr Charlesworth’s post of Branch Manager. This would save them up to £40,000 per annum. At the ET, everyone agreed that DES’s business was failing to achieve its expected profit.

Mr Charlesworth was put at risk of redundancy in March 2015. He was made redundant on 28 April 2015. He claimed at tribunal that he was the victim of a sham - that there had been no redundancy situation, and that his disability was the real reason for his dismissal. The ET dismissed his claims. They found that his absence was not an effective or operative cause of his dismissal, but was merely the occasion on which DES was able to identify that others could absorb the responsibilities of his post. Mr Charlesworth appealed, claiming that the ET had failed to apply the correct causative test. The EAT dismissed the appeal, finding that the ET had correctly applied the statutory test.

This is a helpful decision for employers. It provides a good illustration of the circumstances in which redundancies, following an absence on disability grounds, will not necessarily result in successful claims being brought for disability discrimination.

For more information, please contact Nia Cooper.

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