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Case Law Update – November 2023

As regular readers will know, here at ViewHR, we like to keep an eye on what the Employment Tribunal (ET) and Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) have been up to to be able to determine potential impacts on employers. In this month’s blog, we will review the case of Mr A Rehman v Malcolm Enamellers ACP Ltd.


Mr Rehman commenced employment with the Respondent, Malcolm Enamellers ACP Ltd on the 26th March 1998. The claimant was employed as a Line Operative. It is important to note that English was not the Claimants mother tongue, and he had difficulty in reading and writing English.

Due to an economic turndown, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation was facing difficulties and had to make redundancies and efficiencies to remain sustainable. The Claimant at this time was not selected for redundancy, although he requested voluntary redundancy. During the pandemic, a mixture of short time working, the furlough scheme and lay off were used to manage the return of workers.

Key Events

On 12 July 2022, a notice to change the terms of employment for all; a timetable for consultation was set out.

During the consultation period, the Claimant was on annual leave in Pakistan; the Claimant returned four weeks later than expected; he was given a final written warning. While still in the consultation period, the Claimant raised a grievance against the warning and the consultation process. The hearing manager was the person who issued the warning and was also the officer who was running the consultation process; other senior managers were available.

The appeal hearing manager decided to reduce the length of time the final written warning was ‘live’, from 12 months to six. On 2nd October 2022, the Claimant emailed the Respondent to confirm that he would not accept the proposed changes to his employment contract and that those changes were rejected. The Respondent terminated the Claimants employment with 12 weeks noticed; no right of appeal was given. Some Other Substantial Reason was judged to be the reason for dismissal.  


  1. The Judge found that the Respondent had not followed a fair procedure when dismissing the Claimant. The Claimant was not provided with a proper or genuine consultation as he was in Pakistan during the consultation period. During the grievance hearing, the claimant was given the opportunity to consult; however, this was just a few days before the changes were due to take place. Also, the manager who made the decision to dismiss the Claimant was not independent.
  • The Respondent should have considered that the Claimant had rudimentary speaking ability in the English language, not being able to read or write it. The Respondent did not take this into account prior to the dismissal.
  • The Claimant was not notified that he could face dismissal if he did not accept the proposed contractual changes regarding the invitation to the grievance meeting or in any other correspondence to the Claimant prior to the grievance meeting.
  • The Claimant was not given the right of appeal against dismissal.


In the case of Mr. A Rehman v Malcolm Enamellers ACP Ltd, employers can draw valuable lessons. Firstly, it underscores the importance of undertaking fair procedures. The judge found that the Respondent failed to provide a genuine consultation to the Claimant, particularly during his absence in Pakistan. This highlights the necessity for employers to afford employees adequate time and a transparent process during consultations. Moreover, policies and procedures should be created, and managers should be trained how to follow them.

Secondly, the case emphasises the need to consider individual circumstances. Employers should consider factors such as language barriers, as demonstrated by the Claimant’s difficulty reading and writing English. Understanding and accommodating individual needs contribute to a more equitable workplace.

Lastly, employers should focus on effective communication and procedural diligence. The case reveals a lack of notice given to the Claimant about potential dismissal consequences for rejecting proposed contractual changes. Additionally, it underscores the importance of independent decision-making and the provision of a right to appeal against dismissals. By addressing these aspects, employers can enhance fairness in their HR practices and mitigate the risk of legal challenges.

This month’s case study imparts crucial lessons for employers. To navigate legal challenges and ensure fair practices, contact the team at ViewHR. Expert guidance on HR policies and procedures is essential to establish transparent processes, address individual circumstances, and communicate effectively, mitigating the risk of legal complications.