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Parent fairly dismissed after refusing to return to work during pandemic

In Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd an employment tribunal ruled that an employee who refused to attend his workplace due to Covid 19 concerns had been fairly dismissed.

The Respondent remained open during the lockdown period and provided staff with details of the safety measures in place. Mr Rodgers notified his manager on 25 March 2020 that he would be staying off work until the lockdown had eased as he had two vulnerable children who he wished to protect. He was dismissed on 24 April and subsequently brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal for automatic unfair dismissal.

The judge found that whilst Mr Rodgers had serious concerns about the pandemic and its potential impact on his family, he did not find the danger in the workplace serious and imminent as he had not mentioned the working conditions to his manager and had driven a friend to hospital whilst he should have been self-isolating.

Mr Rodgers had not taken any steps to raise his concerns to the Respondent and the Respondent had taken all reasonable steps to protect the workplace and in light of the government guidance at the time. As a result, his claim for automatic unfair dismissal failed.

It is important for employers to ensure that they are taking all reasonable steps to protect employees in the workplace.