In West London Mental Health NHS Trust v Sarkar the EAT have considered the impact of an employer seeking to deal with a disciplinary allegation in an informal manner through negotiation and without recourse to the full disciplinary procedure but on failure of those negotiations reverting back to use of the full disciplinary procedure and deciding to dismiss.

The Tribunal who heard the complaint at first instance found the dismissal unfair mainly because the employer had sought to negotiate a resolution to the disciplinary allegations through a procedure known as the “Fair Blame Policy” designed for relatively minor matters but when those negotiations broke down reverted to the formal disciplinary procedure and decided to dismiss.

The EAT held that seeking to resolve the allegations informally did not prejudice the employer’s right to apply the full disciplinary procedures as it did.

This may prove to be a useful case to bear in mind when employees suggest that trying to deal with a disciplinary matter quickly and cleanly through a compromise agreement prejudices an employer’s right to revert to the disciplinary procedure if the compromise agreement is not concluded.