The WRC recently held that an employer was entitled to dismiss an employee who had abused the employer’s sick pay scheme.
The complainant in this case was employed as a Revenue Protection Officer from 2007 until his dismissal in 2016. In a workplace incident in 2016 the complainant claimed to have injured himself during a driving manoeuvre by striking his head and back on a pole. He was on certified sick leave for two days but continued to produce medical certificates from his GP thereafter although the company doctor had deemed him fit to return to work.
The employer was dubious of the complainant’s account of the incident, which was uncorroborated by the CCTV footage. Taking this and the fact that the complainant had a substantial history of workplace absenteeism, the employer took the step of hiring a private investigator to track the complainant. The complainant was observed by the private investigator driving to the gym where he lifted weights and used the treadmill. This conflicted with his account to the company doctor that he was unable to drive or lift weights.
In light of the private investigator’s report, the employer dismissed the complainant for potentially abusing the sick pay scheme. The WRC Adjudicator noted that the employer afforded full and fair procedures to the employee throughout the entirety of the disciplinary process which ultimately resulted in his dismissal.
The complainant argued that while he did drive his car to the gym, he did not use weights or use the treadmill. He claimed that the private investigator was mistaken in what he thought he had observed because he was so eager to impress the employer, his client.
The WRC Adjudicator in his decision noted that the complainant was employed as a Revenue Protection Officer and therefore honesty was fundamental to his work. He found that by claiming sick pay when he was fit to return to work, the complainant’s actions constituted a “serious breach concerning honesty and integrity, trust and confidence” which justified the dismissal.