Interim Relief – whistleblowing
This leads us onto interim relief claims, which we believe are likely to be used more often in the current climate. It’s a powerful weapon that can be used by Claimants in automatically unfair dismissal claims which include whistleblowing, health & safety and trade union membership claims. In these cases a tribunal can grant an employee ‘interim relief’ by ordering the employer to reinstate the employee (or if it is unwilling to employ them, to continue paying their salary) pending the tribunal hearing. Given the very long delays currently being experienced in the tribunal system, this could result in a very significant sum being paid out for an employee who has long ago departed.
Employees do need to be quick to make an application – they have 7 days from the day their employment is terminated to bring a claim and make the application for interim relief.
A recent case (Morales v Premier Fruits (Covent Garden) Ltd 2020) illustrates the power of this tactic. The employment tribunal granted interim relief to an employee who was claiming unfair dismissal – he alleged that he was unfairly dismissed in relation to trade union membership in connection with a grievance raised about measures put in place by his employer during the pandemic. The tribunal granted the application for interim relief on the basis it was likely Mr Morales would be able to show that he was dismissed as a result of seeking trade union assistance to bring a grievance. We consider this may be rather stretching the provisions but, for now, and in the absence of an appeal, it may well be that others follow this route. Given the very punitive nature of the remedy, tribunals are especially careful to weigh the likelihood of the claim succeeding at full hearing before granting interim relief. Provided an employer is able to provide a robust defence to the claim such an application is unlikely to succeed.