Friday 20 September 2019

Clerical worker fired after missing 400 days in space of two years

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Gordon Deegan

A public body dismissed a clerical officer in March of last year after he attended for work for only 10 days in 2018 after missing 400 work days during 2016 and 2017.

In the case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the worker - who missed almost 300 work days alone in 2016 - sued for unfair dismissal.

However, WRC Adjudication Officer Davnet O'Driscoll found that the decision of the public body to dismiss the worker "is within the reasonable band of responses, given the gravity of the conduct, the length of time over which it extended, and impact on the service".

Ms O'Driscoll said that the public body "accepts that the absences were not monitored as carefully as they should have been in the case".

She said, however, that there were substantial grounds for the worker's dismissal which were wholly or mainly related to his conduct.

The public body dismissed the worker on March 9, 2018, due to his absences, his failure to comply with the sick-leave policies, and his inability to provide regular and effective service to his employer.

The public body told the WRC that the officer - employed since 2006 - had taken significant amounts of unauthorised uncertified leave where sick-certs were never furnished.

As a result, there were substantial overpayments of salary to him, which amounted to more than €19,000 through sick pay at the date of his dismissal.

According to the employer, in September and October 2017, HR contacted him on six occasions where he indicated he would return to work on five dates but failed to do so.

In November 2017, the employer wrote to the worker telling him that it proposed to hold a disciplinary meeting to address excessive sick-leave, - however, due to ongoing absences by the worker this meeting did not take place.

The worker eventually returned to work and a disciplinary meeting was held on January 16, 2018.

At the meeting, the worker attributed his poor attendance to stress, depression and some personal tragedies. He said that he was taking anti-depressants and getting counselling.

He said that he would mend his ways, sought another chance and promised a fresh start. In evidence, the worker said that his sick-leave dramatically increased following an assault on him on February 10, 2012.

The worker's representative claimed that the employer made no attempt to treat the worker's condition as a disability, pointing out that his GP says he suffered from low mood and anxiety.

Irish Independent

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