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Unfair dismissal – foreign-based employeesUnfair dismissal – foreign-based employees

» Posted on: 2 February 2015

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The case of Lodge v Dignity & Choice in Dying is relevant for any employers who have employees based abroad but work as if they are in the UK (for instance, in the same way as UK based home-workers do or would).

Mrs Lodge is an Australian lady who took a position in London as Head of Finance for Dignity & Choice in Dying. Her mother became ill after she commenced work and so Dignity gave her permission to return to Australia and work remotely from there using a VPN. Mrs Lodge did so from 2009 until she resigned in 2013.

After her employment ended, she attempted to bring claims for unfair dismissal and detriment under the whistleblowing laws but the Employment Tribunal at first instance dismissed her claims on the basis that it had no jurisdiction to deal with them as she was working in Australia.

The EAT, allowing Mrs Lodge to proceed with her claim, took note of the fact that all of the work that she did from her computer in Melbourne was for Dignity’s benefit and that a grievance that she had raised during her employment from Melbourne was dealt with by Dignity in London.

Mrs Lodge did not lose her right to bring her claims in England simply because she continued to perform her duties from Australia. It was noted that Mrs Lodge returned to London in January each year for two weeks to assist with the annual audit and travelled to London on two other occasions each year to attend the AGM and the annual away-day. Significantly, the EAT held that “the fact that ….the Respondents permitted the Claimant to work remotely from Australia for family reasons makes her situation no different from the employee posted to work abroad with his or her consent”.

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