Welcome back from a long Easter weekend break. Hopefully you are all feeling refreshed and you’ve returned to a reinvigorated workforce. However, it will be interesting to see how many employees “pull a sickie” today after an over-indulgent long weekend.
In the recent case of Ajaj v Metroline West Limited, the EAT held that “pulling a sickie” when not actually ill can amount to dishonesty and to “a fundamental breach of the trust and confidence that is at the heart of the employer/employee relationship.” Such behavior could therefore warrant dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct.
Of course, consideration has to be given to the specific facts of each case in deciding whether there has been an act of gross misconduct. In Ajaj, the employee had a significant period of absence in which he was dishonestly claiming sick pay.
Where employers do have concerns about the genuineness of an employee’s sickness absence, they should ensure that they follow a fair investigatory and disciplinary process and that any disciplinary action taken is proportionate.