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Case law: Employee dishonestly claiming illness or injury breaches duty of trust and confidence to employer

Employers should carry out reasonable investigations, and have a genuine and reasonable belief there has been dishonesty, before dismissing an employee for lying about or exaggerating an illness or injury, a ruling makes clear.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - April 2016

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

A bus driver on sick leave after a workplace accident was put under surveillance - and seen to be walking easily. He was dismissed for fraud. He claimed that while he could walk, he could not perform his contractual duties at work which required him to remain seated for long periods.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed that an employee who dishonestly claims they cannot work because of an illness or injury breaches the trust and confidence required of an employee in the employer/employee relationship. Their dismissal is a result of their conduct not their capability, and the procedures to be followed are those for dismissal for misconduct. The employer in this case had carried out a reasonable investigation, and genuinely and reasonably believed the employee was acting fraudulently. The dismissal was therefore fair.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendations

  • Employers should ensure they carry out reasonable investigations, and genuinely and reasonably believe there has been dishonesty, before dismissing an employee for lying about or exaggerating an illness or injury in order to benefit from sick absence

Case ref: Metroline West Ltd v Ajaj UKEAT/0185/15/RN

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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