A Jaguar Land Rover factory worker who received £95,850 in sick pay after missing 808 shifts has won his legal battle for unfair dismissal.
Castle Bromwich employee Vic Rumbold worked at the plant for nearly 20 years and was absent for a number of reasons.
An employment tribunal was held in December 2020 following his sacking from the plant in 2018 and ruled he’d been unfairly dismissed and that the factory had discriminated against him by failing to make suitable adjustments.
However, Rumbold, who was employed by JLR between February 1999 and December 2018, was unsuccessful in his claim that it had discriminated against his disability.
According to the tribunal report, Rumbold was absent because of health reasons, injuries at work and an alleged assault.
The tribunal, held via Zoom, was told that 405 of the shifts missed by Rumbold happened in his last four years with the car company.
Launch manager Jon Carter who conducted Rumbold’s employment review said: ‘Honestly, [it’s the] worst absence record I have ever seen – 808 shifts, price to the organisation is almost £100,000.
‘There is not one year since 2000 with a full attendance record.’
Rumbold had a hip problem that was diagnosed in March 2018 to be avascular necrosis, which causes chronic pain and prevented him from working between March 12 and August 13 that year.
He was going to have a hip operation, which the company knew would mean a further 12 weeks off.
JLR gave Rumbold new roles to try to work around his disability but he explained they were unsuitable.
A job recording vehicle identification numbers allowed him to sit down and use a walking stick but he claimed it felt like a ‘made-up role to get me back to work’ and only lasted a week.
He was then given the job of sealer but said this was unsuitable because he had to walk around each car four times.
Rumbold also claimed he was told not to use his walking stick to avoid damaging the cars.
JLR tried to sack him on the grounds of ‘conduct and capability’. However, it was found the company didn’t follow the proper procedures.
In his report, employment judge Johnson concluded JLR didn’t apply attendance management procedures (AMP) properly.
He said: ‘Taking into account the failure of the respondent to properly apply the AMP in relation to the claimant’s capability, they had not reasonably reached a stage under that process where they could consider dismissal.
‘While there were understandable concerns regarding the historic patterns of sickness absence and the extent to which further absences were required following the hip replacement surgery, they were at a stage where the claimant’s RWP [Restricted Worker Process] had not yet concluded and it had not been possible to determine whether the claimant could return to a full upstanding roles with appropriate adjustments.’
Judge Johnson added: ‘At best, had the AMP been applied properly they would have reached a stage where the claimant could have been issued with counselling or a warning concerning his absences and the need for improvement to avoid further sanction.
‘Simply put, [they] should have followed their own procedures and at the point in time when they decided to dismiss the claimant, this was not a sanction which fell within the range of reasonable responses available to them.’
A hearing to determine compensation will be held in March.