Judge Rules Man Who Went to the Pub After Calling In Sick Was Unfairly Dismissed

·2-min read
Photo credit: Prostock-Studio - Getty Images
Photo credit: Prostock-Studio - Getty Images

A judge has ruled that a man who was sacked after going to the pub when he called in sick from work was unfairly dismissed.

Judge Andrea Pitt ruled that 66-year-old Colin Kane was sacked unfairly and pointed out that nowhere in the company's rules does it ban workers from socialising while off sick.

"There is nothing in the disciplinary procedure prohibiting an employee from acting in this way," said Pitt.

"[Debmat Surfacing] made a gross assumption, without evidence, that the claimant should not be at the social club because of the nature of his condition."

Kane, a smoker who suffers from a serious lung condition, called in sick to work at Debmat Surfacing in Newcastle, where he has been employed as a driver since 2012, on Monday 9 March 2020.

However, after a colleague spotted him sitting in a social club drinking alcohol and smoking, he received a call from his bosses at the surfacing firm, during which he told them that he'd been "in bed all day with his chest".

On his return to work he was called into a meeting with his manager, Shaun Johnson, who put it to Kane that: "Surely if you had been unfit for work and on antibiotics, you shouldn't be in the pub."

Kane's argument was that he wasn't in the pub for long, and therefore there was very little wrong with his behaviour, but his employer disagreed and sacked him for breaching company rules and dishonesty.

Kane took his case to court, where Pitt ruled that Debmat Surfacing acted unfairly in sacking him. She also criticised the company for claiming they'd phoned Kane on the Tuesday rather than the Monday, a claim which was "incorrect" and a "serious error".

On the back of the judge's ruling, Kane's now in line to receive compensation from his former employer, with the exact amount to be decided at a future hearing.

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