Sports Store Manager Awarded €20k for unfair dismissal despite a number of unauthorised absences !

The EAT did not agree that with the Respondent Company’s view that a store manager had an example to set to other staff and said she was unfairly dismissed in respect of a number of short un-authorised absences over a three day period in December 2012.

In Case No UD 931/2012, the employee had been employed for over 6 years and worked a minimum of 42 hours per week but often worked more and particularly at Christmas time. Time management records were produced at the EAT and showed that the manager had been absent without permission for periods of between 3 minutes and 46 minutes over three different days. Whilst a number of the absences were explained at the investigation meeting held, it was  progressed to a disciplinary hearing and it was held that the trust required of a manager had been broken and she was dismissed for wilful and ongoing unauthorised absences

The claimant said she had a clean disciplinary record over 6 years of service and had apologised for her behavior and said it would not happen again. She also outlined that she often worked late and did not get a lunch break when it was busy and had always been an obliging and flexible employee.

The EAT determined the dismissal was unfair taking into account the specific wording of the absence and timekeeping policy in the Company handbook and that the sanction of dismissal had been disproportionate taking all circumstances into account and there were other sanctions available to the employer to consider, despite the fact that the claimant had not been truthful about a period of absence lasting 46 minutes.

Once again employers are reminded to proceed with caution and should always consider the proportionality of dismissal as a sanction and whether sanctions short of dismissal may be appropriate when all factors are considered.