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Sickness & Dishonesty

The Employment Appeals Tribunal case, Metroline West v Ajaj, has demonstrated that dishonesty regarding sickness can actually amount to gross misconduct and therefore allow an employer to dismiss fairly. In their reasoning, the Employment Appeals Tribunal held that anyone who dishonestly asserts that they are unfit for work through illness or injury is guilty of a fundamental breach of the trust and confidence which lie at the heart of any employment relationship.

In this case, a bus driver had an accident at work and was off sick for a period of time, claiming he had injured himself and was unable to work because of his injuries.  After a period of time, Metroline West, his employers placed him under covert surveillance because they felt he had exaggerated his injuries. They eventually dismissed him due to evidence obtained as part of their surveillance.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal explained that because Mr Ajaj’s employer had a genuine and reasonable belief, based on reasonable investigation that he had attempted to commit fraud (by pretending he could not work) the dismissal was deemed to be fair. Therefore, dismissal may be justified in these circumstances. However, this will come down to evidence that the employer has gathered as part of any investigation in to the employee’s dishonesty.