Bridgewater Paper Co v (1) Hillyer (2) Reid - Unjustified limited interpretation of long-term disability scheme [2010] EAT

There was no basis for reading a long-term disability scheme, which would pay-out if an employee were incapable of "employment in any capacity", as being restricted to being unable to work in any capacity for the existing employer only.

Messrs Hillyer and Reid were both electricians, both long-term employees and  both suffered asthma. Following capability hearings Bridgewater dismissed them.

Both claimed that the hearings were shams, alleging that a Mr White, the decision maker, had already decided to dismiss them. They further claimed that, since they were "incapacitated", instead of being dismissed their employment should have continued but under the "Long-Term Disability Scheme (LTDS)" operated by Bridgewater. Under this scheme employees would receive benefits amounting to 50% of salary if they qualified, which they would do by virtue of having a "medical condition is so severe as to render them permanently incapable of employment in any capacity".  Mr White had considered that, although there were no jobs with Bridgewater that Messrs Reid and Hillyer could perform, they could do office based jobs with other employers and so the LTDS did not apply to them.

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