Saturday 3 December 2016

Fitness instructor and lifeguard sacked after bosses discovered she couldn't swim

Gordon Deegan

Published 07/10/2016 | 02:30

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

A fitness instructor whose duties included life-guarding at the pool and teaching aqua aerobics could not swim.

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Sinead Ring was sacked after taking a sun-bed session without paying and exiting a fitness club through a fire escape.

Her dismissal by The Planet Entertainment Centre in Cork came two months after bosses found she could not swim.

In findings which found that Ms Ring's dismissal was fair, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) said that it "was disturbed to learn that the respondent recruited a non-swimmer and sought no credentials from a future employee in a pool area".

According to the EAT, there was a fatality there in the past.

Ms Ring had taught aqua aerobics standing in a small pool that was 1.5m at its deepest.

Ms Ring was taken off 'wet duties' in May 2015 when it emerged she could not swim. She was put on cleaning duties and given a written warning.

At the tribunal, the centre's general manager accepted that Planet Leisure Ltd had hired someone it had thought could swim and said that the firm was "not blameless" in this context.

According to the EAT report, "it had been assumed that she could swim. Nothing adverse happened but there was potential for misfortune".

The general manager said there were tokens for sun-bed use and there was "no culture of free use" at the centre.

He added that Ms Ring was sacked for the unauthorised use of the sun-bed rather than not being able to swim.

According to the EAT, Ms Ring agreed that she had taken tokens on a number of occasions for sunbed use. Ms Ring said that she thought it was common knowledge that the use of the sun-bed was free.

She said sometimes people would leave by the fire escape for convenience for car parking.

In its determination of Ms Ring's unfair dismissal action, the EAT said it preferred the evidence of the respondent The Planet Entertainment Centre.

The tribunal said it was satisfied the unauthorised taking of tokens for sunbed use is gross misconduct.

Irish Independent

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