Worker On Sick Leave Sacked Over Video Of Him Passing A Friend A Hose Pipe
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A worker on sick leave was sacked after being spied on by a private surveillance company, which photographed him passing a hose pipe to a friend – supposedly evidence of him being physically able.
Alan Jones, 55, was previously employed by glass manufacturer Pilkington, having joined the company as an apprentice in 1983 and worked his way up the ladder to become a team leader.
In the 1980s, Jones was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent successful radiotherapy treatment, but in 2006 he began to develop shoulder pain – a side effect of the radiotherapy drugs.
After being diagnosed with Radiation Induced Neuropathy, and experiencing weakness in his right arm and extreme sensitivity, the dad-of-three began to suffer mental health issues, leading him to go on sick leave in November 2018.
However, while off sick, a colleague reported to management that they had seen Jones in work boots, which prompted the company to hire a private surveillance company to monitor him.
According to Thompsons Solicitors, after footage showed him visiting and helping at a local farm, he was sacked without notice on the basis that he was supposedly working elsewhere.
In reality, Jones – who is from St Helens in Merseyside – had been visiting a community farm to help manage his mental health issues, having been offered the suggestion by a therapy service from his GP.
Another video also showed him passing a hose to a famer, who had been watering flowers to be used at Jones’ daughter’s wedding.
A tribunal ruled that a ‘more nuanced and measured approach’ should have been considered by Pilkington before taking such measures.
Employment judge Alan Johnson said: “This sort of activity does involve interference with human rights and an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy. An employer should naturally carry out these activities in a limited, necessary and proportionate way.”
He said: “I am still in disbelief that after all these years rather than speak to me my employer went to these lengths to try and catch me out. I am a long-standing member and steward of a trade union, so I know the rules backwards and I would never break the sickness policy.”
Jones added: “To serve a company for 36 years and get dismissed for spending time with friends to help my mental health is nothing short of disrespectful.
“What they thought was manual labour was, in fact, just me passing a hose pipe to my friend, who was watering flowers for my daughter’s wedding.
“I’m so glad to have had Unite the union and Thompsons Solicitors on my side. Without them and their support I wouldn’t have had the confidence or the energy to bring this challenge.”
The tribunal found that Jones had been unfairly dismissed, as well as subject to discrimination and breach of contract.
Craig Peel, an employment expert from Thompsons Solicitors who acted for Jones, said: “Jumping to conclusions and assuming your loyal employee of over three decades is taking advantage when he is genuinely unwell, is outrageous.
“Our client had been suffering with mental health issues which were well-known to his employer and when spied on was following the advice he was given to treat that, yet Pilkington chose not to have an open conversation and - having got totally the wrong end of the stick - sacked him.
“We are glad that we have been able to play our part in ensuring that he will receive the compensation he deserves.”
A hearing to decide on any financial settlement is due to take place in May.
Featured Image Credit: Thompsons Solicitors/Alamy
Topics: UK News