Firefighters who were forced to use holidays and lieu time while shielding due to Covid have lost their bid for compensation – despite winning their case.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) was found to have discriminated against staff with health conditions in a move that was completely at odds with government advice.

An initial employment tribunal found that the service had breached equality legislation, but awarded no compensation to the firefighters involved.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), who raised the legal action on behalf of members, went on to seek a reconsideration of the compensation decision – claiming that it was “bizarre” - but that has also now been rejected.

The tribunal ruled that it could not make an award as no evidence had been presented on the redress sought by the employees.

In a written decision on the case, employment judge David Hoey said: “It was for the claimants to prove their loss, and they failed to do so.”

He added: “In all the circumstances it is not necessary in the interests of justice to reconsider the judgment that was issued in this case… the application to reconsider our decision is refused.”

The tribunal heard that around 150 SFRS workers who could not perform their roles from home were asked to shield during lockdown.

A judgment on the case states: “All staff who required to shield who could not work from home required to use their accrued annual leave and TOIL before being paid special leave to ensure their time spent at home (and not working) was paid.”

A group of eight employees raised claims for disability discrimination, with judge Hoey ruling that there was “unfavourable treatment (removal of choice and flexibility with regard to TOIL and accrued leave) because of something arising in consequence of a disability”.

However, the judge added that there was an “absence of evidence” showing what was lost by the claimants and it was therefore not “just or equitable” to award any compensation.

A further group who were forced to use annual leave and TOIL to cover time off for caring responsibilities tried to claim that this was sex discrimination, however this was rejected by the tribunal.

Scottish Government advice was that shielders should not lose out on “future entitlements like holiday and accrued time”.

At the time of the initial decision in the case, Jillian Merchant, of Thompsons Solicitors, who represented the claimants, said the case was one of the first Covid-19 discrimination claims to reach the courts.

She said: “Disabled workers should not be punished for following Scottish Government guidance.”