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A judge has ruled in favour of a man who was sacked for being spotted at the pub while off sick from work, essentially ruling that going to the pub on a sick day is not totally out of bounds unless specifically prohibited.
Of course, there are some reasonable arguments to suggest that a trip to the pub with friends could be beneficial for some sickness absences - stress relief, uptick in mood from seeing mates - but less so for things such as viruses, broken vertebrae and the like.
However, in the case of 66-year-old Colin Kane, he now stands to receive compensation after he was sacked for going to a social club when he had called in to work.
Kane, a smoker with a serious lung condition, called in sick to work at Debmat Surfacing in Newcastle, where he has been employed as a driver since 2012, on 9 March 2020.
However, that afternoon he was spied sitting in a social club drinking alcohol and smoking by a colleague, and was subsequently sacked from his role.
He received a call from his bosses at the surfacing firm, and told them that he'd been 'in bed all day with his chest'.
Contracts manager Shaun Johnson called him to a meeting, during which he said: "Surely if you had been unfit for work and on antibiotics, you shouldn't be in the pub."
Kane argued that he'd not been in the pub long, and therefore saw very little wrong with his behaviour.
That didn't stop the company taking disciplinary action against him which led to his sacking for breaching company rules and dishonesty.
Kane took his case to court, and Judge Andrea Pitt has now ruled that the company acted unfairly when they sacked him, pointing out that nowhere in the company's rules does it ban workers from socialising while on the sick.
Pitt said: "There is nothing in the disciplinary procedure prohibiting an employee from acting in this way.
"[Debmat Surfacing] made a gross assumption, without evidence, that the claimant should not be at the social club because of the nature of his condition."
She also said that the company had claimed they'd phoned Colin on the Tuesday rather than the Monday, a claim which was 'incorrect' and proved a 'serious error' in their investigation.
Kane is now in line to receive compensation from his former employer, and a further hearing will take place to decide the amount that he will receive.
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