Where is the fairness, as opposed to the sticking to the letter of employment law, when 3 people who freely accepted that they had been “defrauding their employer on an ongoing basis” can be awarded €63,000 between them by the Employment Appeals Tribunal?
Workers at Waterford Carpets clocked in other staff members when they were absent, and played cards or went to sleep on the carpets if they had finished a job before the end of their shift. Because the company had “a lack of procedures to deal with dismissals” the three men were deemed to have unfairly fired.
In a week when other, hard-working, people in Waterford are facing the fact that they may soon have no jobs and no income, Patrick Kenneally was awarded €13,554, Derek Nolan got €24,863 and Sean Walsh got €24,445, despite the fact that “in deciding how much to award the three workers the tribunal said there was proven consistent fraud on the part of the claimants and that the claimants contributed significantly to their dismissals”. God knows how much they’d have got if they’d actually done nothing wrong.
This case, of course, pales into insignificance compared to the one last year where Michael Shadlow and Tony Casey were awarded €20,000 and €28,000 when the same Tribunal ruled that they had been unfairly dismissed. These model employees had a fight – at work – during which Shadlow grabbed Casey by the testicles and head-butted him, whereupon Casey bit off part of Shadlow’s nose and spat it into the toilet.
The two worked as carpenters at -and here’s where it gets really incredible – a Daughters of Charity health centre which caters for 400 children and adults with moderate, severe and profound intellectual disabilities.The EAT apparently felt that for the Charity to pay almost fifty grand to these bozos was a better use of its money than, say, using the money for the benefit of the disabled that it was set up to help.
One of the reasons why the EAT felt that they had been unfairly dismissed – and I’m sorry now that I wasted the phrase “and here’s where it gets really incredible” earlier – was that there had been bad feeling between the men for several years, but nothing had been done by the Charity. In other words, if two of your staff row and you don’t fire them, you have now established it as Company policy that they are free to carry on fighting, and you will never be able to fire them, no matter how badly they behave to one another, because you didn’t fire them when it all started.
Now I’m not some employer here bemoaning the way in which employment law in this country always favours the worker. I’m just a PAYE employee, the same as these five people, and I have to say that cases like these make me seethe.
If I clocked a workmate in when he was absent, so he got paid for staying at home, or if I slept or played cards on the job, and was caught and fired, I would accept that as fair. If I got into a violent row with a workmate, clocked him in a different sense of the word, and was fired, I’d run home and hide under the bed in shame. This is what’s known as having values, and a sense of what’s right and wrong. Not for one second would I feel picked-on or victimised enough to try to make out that I was unfairly dismissed.
The men in these cases are spongers off the system. Yet, when you look at the idiotic judgements given by the Tribunal, is it any surprise that men with more neck than principles will seek to profit from their own misbehaviour? Is it any different to claiming compensation when you fall down due to your own stupidity?