Our employee asked for extended unpaid leave abroad for family reasons, which was approved by manager. Employee was told may face disciplinary if did not return on time and this was confirmed in writing. Employee did not return on time. AWOL procedure therefore commenced – sent ‘get in touch’ letter, then 1st disciplinary invite, 2nd disciplinary invite, then terminated with right to appeal within 7 days.

Relative of employee then makes contact four weeks later advising us that the employee is sick abroad, has faxed us foreign medical certificates (which we didn’t receive and we do not accept foreign certificates). Relative also confirms employee has changed address and therefore did not receive the disciplinary letters.

Employee calls a week later asking for his job back. We have advised that he is well out of appeal timescale, therefore our decision to dismiss still stands.

He has now provided us with a copy of a ‘To whom it may concern’ letter dated in 2005 from his manager confirming his new address (which may or may not be a genuine letter) and is therefore claiming that he did notify us of his new address. There is no copy of this letter on his file and no trace of a change of address on the HR system.

He insisted on his right to appeal and has put this in writing to us. I have written back to maintain he is out of time, we followed the correct procedure, and that we do not accept foreign medical certificates. He kept calling, and turned up at our offices, so we discussed this with him again in person and explained that we have followed our procedure and have dismissed correctly. We treated this meeting as an informal meeting and not as an appeal as we believed we had offered the right to appeal and that he was well out of time.

He is still insisting on his right to appeal and has now lodged a Tribunal claim based on unfair dismissal, as he feels that he has been denied the right to appeal.

Advice please??? Have we denied him the right to appeal?
Jeannette McAlister

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