18 March 2016: Falsely Claiming Sickness Absence:
It’s common for employees in some organisation to falsely claim sick leave, whether it’s to receive a delivery, because their team won the night before, or because of their child’s dental appointment. Does this amount to misconduct?
In Metroline West v Ajaj, Mr Ajaj was a bus driver. He slipped at work and went off sick with an injury. He said it was painful to walk, that he could only carry light shopping and he could not walk for more than about six minutes. Metroline put him under surveillance and found that he was exaggerating the effects of his injury. He was dismissed.
The Employment Tribunal considered when Mr Ajaj could reasonably be expected to return to work based on his real (rather than his exaggerated) symptoms, and held that his dismissal was unfair. However the EAT held that an employee who ‘pulls a sickie’ or exaggerates his symptoms as in this case is dishonest and in fundamental breach of contract. The dismissal was fair.
It can be difficult for employers to prove that an employee is exaggerating or falsifying sickness, and employers will seldom engage in covert surveillance. However more than once, someone claiming serious illness has been caught out by their Facebook posts.
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