Long-term disability: Employee PHI benefits apply to returning to same job

In ICTS (UK) Limited v Visram UKEAT/0133/18 Mr Visram worked as an International Security Co-ordinator but went on sick leave with work-related stress and depression. The Claimant became entitled to Long Term Disability Benefit (“LTDB” aka permanent health insurance) under his employment after 26 weeks absence. The term of the insurance booklet stated the LTDB would be paid “…until the earlier date of your return to work, death or retirement”. After being absent from work for nearly two years the Respondent dismissed him with pay in lieu of notice, and continued to pay the LTDB until the situation had been clarified.

The issue at hand was whether construction of the phrase “return to work” meant return to work in the Claimant’s  former role with the Respondent or whether it meant any suitable work which the Claimant was able to carry out whether for the Respondent or otherwise. The EAT ruled that the words "return to work" in the policy did not mean return to full-time work with any employer, but specifically the employer that he had worked for prior to going on sick leave and doing the same work. Had he not been dismissed he would have continued to be entitled to receive the benefits since he was unable to return to the same work he had been doing when he became unwell. It also upheld the tribunal’s finding that the dismissal constituted discrimination arising from disability and was unfair. Therefore he was entitled to be compensated for loss of benefits until death or retirement. The claim remitted to the tribunal for determining compensation for loss of long term and associated benefits and the issue of mitigation. (His claim for aggravated damages also remitted for determination.)

Published: 29 April 2019

Article Sections: Ending employment | Payments during Employment | Sickness

Tags: long-term disability, PHI


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