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Unfair Dismissal – Employer wins case due to employee’s conduct on long term sick leave

The recent case of A Clerical Officer v A Public Body gives some confort for employers (in this case the public service) where it was found that the employee was not unfairly dismissed due to excessive absences and his conduct or behaviour around those absences.

The Workplace Relations Commission noted:

It is a serious matter for an employer when an employee does not give regular and consistent attendance. The burden falls on colleagues and can ultimately damage the service provided. As stated by Lardner J in Bolger v Showerings (Ireland ) Ltd [1990] /ELR 184 an employer is entitled to expect that as part of the contract of employment an employee would be capable of carrying out the tasks for which he had been employed”.

It concluded:

“There are substantial grounds for the Complainant’s dismissal which is wholly or mainly related to the conduct of the Complainant. The Complainant was notified of the seriousness of the disciplinary proceedings and his right to representation. There is no breach of fair procedures.

I find the response of the Respondent to dismiss the Complainant is within the reasonable band of responses given the gravity of the conduct, the length of time over which it extended and impact on the service”

Case Tip – Employers should look to update their sick leave and/or disciplinary policies to ensure they are fully up to date with caselaw. The sick leave policy should make it clear that breaches of the policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

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