Bagaglia v Mater Misericordiae University Hospital
EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
CASE NO. UD1183/2014
The claimant worked with the respondent for a period of seven years. In September 2013 she received urgent communication that her husband had been diagnosed with cancer in Italy. She immediately sought unpaid leave. It was initially granted for a period of one month and then for a further 5 months. At the end of this period she sought another six months by way of e-mail and told the respondent that after that period of time (September 2014) that if she could not return to work she would then offer her resignation. The respondent could not approve the additional six months but advised her in writing and by e-mail that only one further month could be approved. At the end of the additional month of unpaid leave the respondent e-mailed her enquiring about her intention to return on 23rd April 2014. No response was received from the claimant and the respondent considered her �"resigned�".
PD director of the centre told the Tribunal that the claimant was a good employee. The claimant came to him on 19th September stating that her husband was seriously ill and she required time off to take care of him. PD immediately approved unpaid leave and supported her in any way he could. The initial period of one month was extended to six months at the claimant's request. PD said it was a challenge to run the centre without her but did so with the aid of an agency worker. His next communication with the claimant was an e-mail on 3rd March 2014 when she requested a further six months extension of her unpaid leave. That e-mail also noted the claimants intention to resign in August should her situation not change. He replied on the same day stating that unfortunately he could not agree to the request but was willing to give an additional one month's leave (up to 23rd April 2014). He didn't receive a reply and all follow up was done by HR.
When asked whether it was an option to continue with agency workers for a further six months he said that the unit needed continuity and it takes time to find the right person with the right skill sets and for that person to be trained. He also stated that a maximum of six months unpaid leave was HR policy. When the claimant didn't return to work or make contact on the date specified he assumed she wasn't coming back. He had no further contact with the claimant and never undertook to contact her to enquire about her return to work.
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