Employee Gets Payout After Being Sacked For Smoking In Wrong Place On Break
A man who was sacked from his job after being supposedly seen smoking in the wrong place while he was on shift at a water bottling plant.
Richard Andrew, 45, had worked at a water bottling plant in Wales for 15 years and was only meant to smoke in the 'smoking hut' on his breaks.
But he was supposedly seen on CCTV four times in a day smoking next to the water tank. He would have had to have used his electronic key fob to get access to the area.
Montgomery Water, which supplies the likes of Co-op and Tesco, sacked him on the grounds of gross misconduct, although he claimed he wasn't the person in the footage, telling HR in a disciplinary meeting: "Prove it."
Since he was fired, a tribunal ruled the company were wrong to sack Andrew straight away and that compensation would be due for unfair and wrongful dismissal.
Mr Andrew had been employed by the company as a production team manager, bottling Aquavit, Aqua Roma and Celtic Spring water in Powys, Wales.
More CCTV cameras had been installed and it was claimed that on a single day in January last year, Mr Andrew had been spotted four times.
The company also accepted that the risk of contamination of the water was minimal, but Andrew was still suspended.
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He had initially denied that he was the person in the footage by he was still sacked by operations director Steve Prosser for gross misconduct.
The company, which prides itself on its reputation as being the healthy choice, said that the rule was introduced in 2004.
Its website reads: "Found in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Montgomery Water Ltd. sits beneath a small range of former volcanic hills in the mid-Wales county of Montgomeryshire in the little rural village of Churchstoke.
"Our spring and mineral water is infused with a host of essential minerals by virtue of its passage through these ancient rock formations and as such providing the fine taste of the water we abstract."
However, employment Judge Steven Williams ruled that the company's employee handbook did not make it clear whether smoking in prohibited areas amounted to misconduct or not.
Although the judge has said that he was sure that Mr Andrew would have been aware that the work place was no-smoking, it might not have been clear that the tank area would have been considered gross misconduct and therefore would lead to summary dismissal.
The amount of compensation due to Mr Andrew will be decided at a hearing later this year.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: uk news
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