Make sure employment policies aren’t half-baked, warns solicitor

24/09/2020

Legal expert Julia Fitzsimmons today warned employers to make sure their workplace policies weren’t half-baked after a shop assistant won a £3,000 payout in a tribunal over the sale of sausage rolls.

Yvonne Hough’s employer accused her of ‘theft’ after she was 20p short when buying her grandchildren the savoury snacks.

The 54-year-old, who had worked for The Bake-Away for more than 20 years, only had £1 with her when she bought the sausage rolls as she left work on her way to a family funeral with the children. She told the tribunal she had forgotten to pay the remaining 20p the following day.

Employer Lynn Pinder sacked Miss Hough for gross misconduct after speaking with other staff and reviewing CCTV. But an employment tribunal in Manchester ruled the dismissal was unfair.

Employment Judge Jennifer Ainscough awarded Miss Hough a £3,061 payout and said her employer did not follow any procedure prior to sending the dismissal letter.

"Ms Pinder had made her mind up from watching the CCTV, Miss Hough's reaction to the phone call and request for a dismissal letter. Miss Hough was not offered any appeal and was merely left with the finding of dismissal."

Julia Fitzsimmons, a Partner with FBC Manby Bowdler’s Employment team, said the case should serve as a warning to employers to not only review disciplinary procedures to make sure they were in line with current regulations, but to make they followed them as well.

“This case really demonstrates the importance of having employment policies and procedures which are not half-baked. Miss Hough had worked at the bakery for 20 years. She finished a shift and gave a colleague £1 for two sausage rolls, knowing that she was short of 20p but was in a hurry to get to her uncle’s funeral.

“Miss Hough was contacted by phone the next day by her employer who accused of theft and then sacked her before texting her to tell her bring in her keys and collect her wages. Miss Hough denied she was a thief and told her employer to take whatever money was owed out of her wages.

“Employers should make sure that disciplinary and grievance procedures are not only in place but followed. In this case, Miss Hough was not offered any appeal.”

For advice on this or any employment issue, please contact Julia using the details below.

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