The Employment Court has upheld as justified a dismissal of an employee who failed to return to work on the day they were due back after annual leave.

The employee was due to return to work on a Monday, but on that day called in to say that their flight had been cancelled and there was no alternative flight until the next day.  They were asked to provide copies of the tickets for their flight, but failed to provide those to the employer.  The employee also changed their story to say that they had missed the flight rather than it being cancelled.

The employer carried out an investigation, at which the employee again failed to provide any evidence of a booking for the flight they said was cancelled or missed.  The employee was dismissed for being absent without approved leave and for misleading the employer as to the reasons.

The Court held that missing work on the Monday would have been misconduct, but on its own would not justify dismissal.  The Court went on to find however that misleading the employer as to the reasons for not being at work, by claiming the flight was cancelled and that it had been missed, when these reasons were not correct, destroyed the trust and confidence of the employer in the employee and amounted to serious misconduct justifying dismissal.

If the employee had just failed to turn up for work on a Monday without giving any reason, then that would have been misconduct, but would not have resulted in their dismissal.  Giving false reasons turned misconduct into serious misconduct and the employee’s claim was dismissed.  The employee now faces costs awards against her in both the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court as well as being out of employment.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer