Sacked For Not Reporting

To round off this issue we bring you another tale that has made tabloid headlines. Often behind the outrage, poor quality puns and advertising, there is a message and a good laugh too.

This month’s mention goes to the case of Onyike V Sainsbury’s. Mr. Onyike was a long-serving employee who worked in the delivery pay, unloading stock from lorries and vans into the warehouse.

In the loading area, there was a notice about wearing hi-vis clothing and being aware of approaching vehicles. However, there was no signage or policy that directly forbid the wearing of headphones to listen to music.

Store management observed him wearing headphones several times and allegedly asked him to remove them on each occasion. Each time the management was told that no music was playing on the headphones.

Mr. Onyike was suspended and ultimately dismissed for failing to follow the health and safety procedures. At ET the judge held that despite wearing headphones is a serious risk the employee had no explicit knowledge that this was against the rules or the repercussions of wearing them.

He won his claim and a remedy hearing will be held to determine his award. However, the is an 80% deduction for contributory fault, something of a pyrrhic victory perhaps.

What this incident does teach employers though is that disciplinary policies need to be regularly reviewed. 15 years ago headphones were quite uncommon among adults, now nearly everyone owns at least one set. Such changes need to be reflected in policy to prevent similar claims coming up against other employers.