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Lidl Ireland Unfairly Dismissed Employee Due to “Excessive Sick Leave”

posted 7 months ago

Buinenko v Lidl Ireland Gmbh Lidl Head Office ADJ-00033871, concerned a complaint under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015. The Complainant alleged that he was unfairly dismissed for taking sick leave, that he was legitimately sick and had adhered to the policies and procedures set out in the employee handbook. The Respondent argued that the Complainant was dismissed for gross misconduct due to 69 sick leave absences and having left early on 10 occasions, as well as taking unauthorised prolonged breaks on 13 occasions.

Facts:

The Complainant was employed by the Respondent from September 2010 until his dismissal in June 2021. He had been off on certified medical leave on 69 occasions due to being in hospital for treatment of hip and back pain. However, the Complainant complied with the terms and conditions set out in the employee handbook which stated that all sick leave must be supported by a medical certificate. The Respondent claimed that the Complainant’s absence caused serious disruptions to the productivity of the company and that other employees were forced to work extra hours due to the absences. In May 2021, the Respondent began an investigation into what it described as an “alleged pattern of unreliable attendances” over a 16-month period. An investigation report concluded that there was alleged gross misconduct, and a disciplinary process was commenced. The Complainant was dismissed on the basis that he “….had breached company procedures and was unable to provide a valid reason for his repeated failure to attend work or for leaving work on multiple occasions” and that his actions were “willingly disruptive”.

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