Employee Dismissed for use of Mobile Phone !

A fair ground operator who was dismissed for using his mobile phone whilst operating a fairground ride was unfairly dismissed and awarded €4,000.

The employer had a clear policy in place that prohibited the use of mobile phones whilst working for health and safety reasons.  The employee did not deny that he has used his phone but said there was no secure place to leave it and that he sometimes had to phone colleagues for work related purposes.  The employee asked to see the CCTV footage that showed him using his phone twice whilst operating a ride but it was not made available to him nor was the relevant manager available at the disciplinary meeting to be questioned.

The EAT determined therefore that the dismissal process was sufficiently invalid to render the dismissal unfair and awarded €4,000 in compensation.

Lessons for Employers on How to Dismiss Fairly

It would normally not be considered unreasonable to dismiss an employee for a clear breach of a protocol that was in place to protect the safety of the public. However, in this case it was the disciplinary process that was flawed and which led to the employee winning his unfair dismissal claim.  All evidence relied on to dismiss must be made available and the employee given an opportunity to comment on.

Another important point is that guidelines on matters such as use of phones should always be clearly communicated to employees in writing and the consequences of non adherence spelt out.