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Manager loses unfair dismissal claim after saying he was sick to go and catch a flight

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton
Working Time Directive

In Collins v Steris IMS Ltd Ross Collins was a  medical firm manager who was sacked after he told bosses he had to go home sick – but was photographed at the airport hours later with a burger and pint, a tribunal heard. Mr Collins had booked time off work for a trip to Cyprus from the following day when his flight was actually booked due to take off 24 hours earlier.

In order to catch his plane, he told his employers he had an ‘upset stomach’ and wanted to check on his partner who was ‘nearly 12 weeks pregnant’. But he was caught out when colleagues saw a photo on social media of him enjoying a meal and a drink at Gatwick Airport just three and a half hours after leaving work. Other posts made clear the pair were ‘on their way to Larnaca, Cyprus’.

Upon returning to work he was subject to a disciplinary investigation and later dismissed.

He appealed his dismissal and eventually launched complaints of unfair dismissal against his employer – arguing he had overtime and ‘wanted to take this time back’. He was sacked for gross misconduct and later sued for unfair dismissal, but his claims were rejected by an employment tribunal.

He admitted he should have informed his bosses his flight was that day and not the day after but argued he had never questioned colleagues who ‘left work to watch a football game’.

Concluding, Employment Judge Stephen Bedeau said: “[The tribunal is] satisfied that the reason why (Mr Collins) was dismissed was that he had lied to [his employers] as to the reason for him leaving.”

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