Industrial Tribunal rules on - 6/1/2004

From The Times 6th January

Tribunal finds for employer in sick leave abuse dismissal
An industrial tribunal has dismissed a complaint filed by a female employee against WET Automative Systems (Malta) Ltd and ruled that her dismissal was justified.

The tribunal heard that Amanda Galea, who had been employed by the company in May 1998, was dismissed in November 2002 on the basis that she had abused of sick leave.

The company submitted that in its opinion Galea had taken excessive sick leave and had established a pattern whereby she was taking a few days at a time regularly. As a result, her sick leave was disproportionate when compared to other employees.

WET Automative Systems said it had referred Galea to a medical board composed of three independent doctors who had concluded that she had a strong tendency to absent herself for minor ailments and that her sickness record was such as to indicate that her sick leave pattern was unlikely to change.

The referral took place after Galea had been warned about her sick leave record on numerous occasions. On her part, Galea denied having abused of sick leave and insisted that whenever she had absented herself from work she had always been certified as ill by the doctor who had visited her.

In its award the tribunal noted that Galea had taken 55 days sick leave in 2000, 27 in 2001 and 48 in 2002. Furthermore, although the doctors who had testified had declared that they had certified Galea as being sick, on many occasions they had based their certification on what she had told them.

The tribunal added that Galea's sick leave had been certified but added that the total days of sick leave taken had constituted a problem for her employer.

It also clearly resulted that Galea had been warned on a number of occasions about the sick leave she was taking.

In the circumstances, there was nothing wrong in the fact that the company could not tolerate excessive sick leave for complaints which, in the professional opinion of the doctors who had examined Galea, were mainly of a slight nature that ought not to have prevented her reporting for work.

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