The cost of a heat of the moment decision

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Employee dismissed for leaving his post for 2 minutes to get change for a cup of coffee.

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In a recent case, an employee won £10,000 in compensation against their employer on the basis of unfair dismissal.

The employee had worked for the employer for over 10 years as a baker. He was dismissed for leaving his post for 2 minutes during a night shift to get change for a cup of coffee. The employee needed money from his coat pocket, which had been left in a car in the car park. The employee had told a manager where he was going and that he would be a few minutes. The manager in question later denied this and felt the employee’s absence was unauthorised and as such dismissed the employee on the spot for gross misconduct. To add further insult to injury, the employer had a policy which allowed smokers to leave their post for cigarette breaks without disciplinary consequence.

Such a snap decision, which the employer later tried to defend on the grounds of health and safety, was a very costly one indeed. Employers should be mindful to always step back from a disciplinary situation and think before any final decisions are made.

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