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Blog  »  August 2017  »  Employee reasonably dismissed after leaving a charity van outside a pub overnight - Blog
24
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Employee reasonably dismissed after leaving a charity van outside a pub overnight

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that an employee had been fairly dismissed after he left a charity van, displaying the charity’s logo, parked outside a pub overnight. The van was recovered from the car park the following day when the worker telephoned a colleague and asked that they retrieve it. However, the worker was suspended with full pay, pending investigation, when he returned to work on Monday. The following month, as a result of the investigation the employee was dismissed.

Investigation

The worker had been employed at with the charity for less than a year, and therefore did not meet the requirement of having 1 years’ service in order to make a claim for unfair dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015. The case instead was brought under the Industrial Relations Acts 1969, investigating a dispute between an employer and employee, and whether natural justice and fair procedures were followed during the investigation and dismissal.

The employee argued that he was subject to an unfair investigation and was dismissed for taking a charity van home, which he claimed was customary among employees to do in order to facilitate work routes the following day. He added that he had received an urgent phone call from his mother regarding the hospitalisation of his father and that the only way he could assist in taking his mother to the hospital was by using the charity’s van.

The employer argued that as a charity, in a time where voluntary contributions are increasingly under scrutiny that their public image is of the utmost importance. They noted that they had a vehicle policy in place and that the absence of a company van for over 24 hours was unacceptable. The employer also argued that during the disciplinary process “a female manager had become frightened by suggestions that the complainant would call to her home address”.

Finding

The adjudication officer found:

“Taking in mind the open admission of the complainant that he had taken the van home and the extensive nature of the investigation and proper appeal procedures, I came to the view that the dismissal decision was in the band of reasonableness for an employer in the charity/voluntary sector concerned.”

Learning Points

It is important to note that although an employee cannot make a claim for unfair dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015 if they have less than 1 years’ service, employers must ensure that natural justice and fair procedures are followed at all times. We can also see from this case how having clear policies and procedures in place is extremely important, particularly to assist protecting your business against a possible claim.

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Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook