The EAT, in Scott & Co v Richardson, has considered the appropriate test for deciding whether an employer has 'some other substantial reason' for dismissing an employee.

In this case, the employer wished to reorganise employees' contracts to introduce a shift system whereby those employed as debt collectors would also work in the evenings, which the employer felt was more effective than daytime collecting. One employee, Mr Richardson, refused to agree to the variation of his contract unless he was paid overtime for the time spent working in the evening. After a seven-month standoff, Mr Richardson challenged his employer to dismiss him or stop insisting on the revised shift pattern. Mr Richardson was therefore promptly dismissed.

The Employment Tribunal held that the employer had not demonstrated some other substantial reason for the dismissal, as they had not shown discernible advantages by imposing the contract variation. However the EAT held that this was the wrong approach and that the correct test was to ask whether the employer reasonably believed/concluded that the variation in the contract had advantages.  According to the EAT, provided the reason given was not 'whimsical, unworthy or trivial' the employer will have succeeded in establishing some other substantial reason.

It should be noted that the EAT has remitted the case to the Employment Tribunal to decide whether the dismissal was fair under section 98(4) of the Employment Rights Act. This involves weighing the detriment to the employee of introducing the change against the detriment to the employer's business of not implementing the change.

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