Can an employee transfer to a branch out with the EU and still bring an Unfair Dismissal claim against their UK employer?
Perhaps yes, according to the ruling of the EAT in the recent case of Lodge v Dignity and Choice in Dying.
The Claimant in this case had been employed by both Respondents as Head of Finance, based for many years at their only UK office in London. When her mother became unwell the Claimant requested to move back to Melbourne with the rest of her family.
Her employers agreed to this request and she continued to work from Melbourne, occasionally travelling back to London for business matters. This relationship eventually took a downturn and the employee raised a grievance whilst being subject to disciplinary action. Following which, the employee resigned claiming constructive unfair dismissal.
The Claimant found that she was unable to raise a claim in Melbourne so the Employment Tribunal had to make a decision as to whether she had the right to raise a claim in the UK. In coming to their decision, they had to consider whether the employee had stronger links with the UK than Australia.
The ET ruled that as she had voluntarily opted to move to Australia and had lived under Australian tax and pension regimes, the link with the UK was not sufficiently strong and therefore she had lost her right to bring the claim.
On appeal to the EAT, the decision was overturned. They considered it relevant that the Claimant had continued to do all her work entirely for the benefit of her UK employer whilst working in Australia. They also took into consideration the fact that the Respondents had not challenged her contention that she had been unable to raise her claim in Australia. Finally, they also highlighted that even though she had raised her grievance while based in Melbourne, the hearing had been in London.
For these reasons, the EAT ruled that the Claimant did indeed have a strong enough link with the UK and the Appeal was upheld.