Uplift for failure to comply with the Acas Code of Practice

John Cook

In Rentplus UK Ltd v Coulson [2022] EAT 81, the EAT upheld the employment Tribunal’s decision to award a 25% uplift to compensation due to the employers failure to comply with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures.

The claimant joined the respondent as Director of Partnerships in 2015, soon after it had been established.

Unbeknown to the claimant, a decision was taken in March 2017 that she would be dismissed.

Steven Collins was appointed as a consultant to the respondent in April 2017. The then CEO, Richard Connolly, decided that he would step down in the autumn of 2017. Mr Connolly introduced Mr Collins to members of the Board, with the intention that Mr Collins might succeed him as CEO.

Mr Collins was employed as CEO in October 2017. The role had not been advertised. The employment tribunal accepted the claimant’s case that she was frozen out of her role from October 2017 onwards.

From October 2017 the respondent was seeking to find new funding. In February 2018 a new investor injected £11m into the respondent. The respondent instigated a reorganisation. Because more funds were available the total number of posts were to be increased, but nevertheless it was described as a “redundancy” exercise. The claimant attended “consultation” meetings on 16 April 2018 and 10 May 2018. The employment tribunal concluded the consultation exercise was a total sham because the decision to dismiss the claimant had been taken long before.

On 15 June 2018, the claimant submitted a grievance. The grievance and appeal were dismissed. The employment tribunal concluded that Mr Collins was the real decision maker, although the grievance had purportedly been conducted by the respondent’s employment consultants. The employment tribunal concluded that the grievance process was just as much a sham as the redundancy.

The employment tribunal held this was an unfair dismissal and the reason was not redundancy. Instead, it was a desire to remove her from her role and that was the basis Mr Collins took the role of CEO. There had been no criticism of Ms Coulson’s work and it was not a disguised capability dismissal.

The employment tribunal concluded that the procedure adopted by the respondent before dismissing the claimant was a total sham. The EAT found the employment tribunal did not err in awarding an Acas uplift of 25%.

It will often be helpful when considering Acas uplift for an employment tribunal to ask the following

1. Is the claim one which raises a matter to which the Acas Code applies
2. Has there been a failure to comply with the Acas Code in relation to that matter
3. Was the failure to comply with the Acas Code unreasonable
4. Is it just and equitable to award an uplift because of the failure to comply with the Acas Code and,
if so, by what percentage, up to 25%

To read the full judgement, click HERE

John Cook – Solicitor

John Cook

I am a qualified Solicitor with over 30 years’ experience running a business, managing a team, appearing in the Employment Tribunal and advising on almost every conceivable employment law and HR issue. Clients appreciate my down to earth and straight forward approach that allows them to achieve results and manage their organisation more effectively. I take the worry out of employment law and HR issues with a proactive and robust approach.