Harsh but Fair

A good news day for employers today - first up is the case of Robert Surtees v Apache North Sea where a Tribunal dismissed a claim of unfair dismissal. The employee took a 2 hour break from his nightshift claiming he was unwell. He worked on an oil-rig and was mechanical technician. Even though he had been there 27 years and this was his first offence the Tribunal said that it was gross misconduct given the importance of his health and safety duties. Most imporantly they said that although they might not have made that decision themselves the employer was entitled to make that decision. This is the "band of reasonable responses" test beloved of employment lawyers acting for employers. A lenient employer might have just given him a final written warning given his length of service. The counter-argument would be that someone with long service should know better than to skive off work for 2 hours.

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