Employees Beware, Pulling a “Sickie” can amount to Gross Misconduct

It is well publicised that during major sporting events, the number of employees calling in sick increases. With the Olympic Games in Rio quickly approaching, a recent case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal sends a warning to Employees who may be considering calling in sick to watch the games.

Mr Ajaj was employed by Metroline West Limited and claimed to have had a fall at work which resulted in an extended period of absence. During this absence, Metroline West Limited became suspicious of Mr Ajaj and arranged for covert recordings. The content of these recordings contradicted with the account Mr Ajaj had given to his employer and to the occupational health. Metroline West Limited decided that Mr Ajaj’s actions potentially amounted to gross misconduct and they commenced disciplinary proceedings which resulted in his dismissal.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal supported the decision to dismiss Mr Ajaj for gross misconduct based on the fact that they genuinely believed that he had (i) obtained or claimed sick pay by fraudulently representing to be sick when he was not; (ii) misrepresented his ability to attend work at review meetings and with the occupational health doctor and (iii) exaggerated his condition or deliberately attempted to defraud the company with a claim of injury at work that was exaggerated.

Whilst covert recordings are not appropriate methods of investigating employees in all situations, the advancement of social media can form part of the bigger picture when investigating conduct.

Employees will therefore need to be aware that “pulling a sickie” can amount to gross misconduct and employers should ensure that their social media policies are up to date so that social media posts can be accessed and relied upon.”

If you require any more information on this case or alternatively, if you need any advice in relation to any employment matters, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts:

Mark Hirst or Rachael Frankland on 0161 330 6821 or email mhirst@bromleys.co.uk  rfrankland@bromleys.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.