Employment

In some sectors, employees are required to have certain qualifications or licences. In Cook v Wilson James Limited, the Employment Tribunal considered the matter of a security supervisor who was dismissed because he did not have a Security Industry Authority door supervisor licence.

Mr Cook was a security supervisor at London Science Museum. He was initially a museum employee, but after an outsourcing exercise his employment transferred to Wilson James Limited (“Wilson”). As a private security firm, Wilson was legally bound to ensure that all of its staff had the necessary security licences.

Mr Cook applied for a licence shortly after his transfer to Wilson, but his application was rejected by the SIA. Wilson suspended him from work and subsequently dismissed him, on the basis that he could not continue to be employed without a licence.

Mr Cook raised a claim of unfair dismissal. He complained that Wilson had not sufficiently investigated the possibility of finding him an alternative role, and had adopted an unfair disciplinary procedure.

The ET accepted that Mr Cook had been fairly dismissed for some other substantial reason, namely that he did not hold an SIA licence. It observed that most of the alternative roles in Wilson’s business were security jobs, in many cases requiring an SIA licence.

It also noted that Mr Cook had not applied for any alternative positions. Although there were some deficiencies in the disciplinary proceedings, neither the decision to dismiss or the process followed fell outside the range of reasonable responses.

This case is an interesting example of an employee being dismissed for “some other substantial reason”. It also serves as a reminder that, when dealing with an employee who does not have the requisite qualifications or licences, it is best practice to consider the possibility of alternative employment before dismissing.

Julie Keir

Practice Development Lawyer at Brodies LLP
As a Practice Development Lawyer Julie is responsible for developing and maintaining Brodies Workbox, our award-winning online HR and employment law resource.
Julie Keir