Face­book costs job

Sick worker busted on hol­i­day

The Northern Star - - LIFE - MEA­GAN DIL­LON, THE AD­VER­TISER

IT IS com­mon prac­tice for bosses to check what staff are up to on Face­book – but it cost one Ade­laide man his job af­ter his em­ployer busted him at a wed­ding in In­dia dur­ing sick leave.

Daniel Smyth lost his un­fair dis­missal bid against Al­wyn­dor Aged Care in the SA Em­ploy­ment Tri­bunal, af­ter it found the Hove nurs­ing home was within its right to sack him over the so­cial me­dia posts.

In Fe­bru­ary 2016, Mr Smyth was jailed for 81 days for dis­qual­i­fied driv­ing.

He wrote a let­ter to the then­general man­ager and told him of his cir­cum­stances, seek­ing leave with­out pay – which was granted.

Mr Smyth was re­leased in May 2016 and a few days later met with Al­wyn­dor HR man­ager Greg Nankervis, where he was told his em­ploy­ment would recom­mence on June 8.

The tri­bunal was told that Mr Smyth asked Mr Nankervis if he could start work over a month later so he could go to a wed­ding in In­dia. But the re­quest was de­nied.

On June 8, Mr Smyth – who suf­fers from de­pres­sion and bipo­lar – pro­vided two sick cer­tifi­cates cov­er­ing June 8 to July 18, 2016.

“The pe­riod for the sec­ond cer­tifi­cate was for the same pe­riod Mr Smyth had sought and been de­nied an­nual leave,” tri­bunal com­mis­sioner Paul McMa­hon said. “Dur­ing this pe­riod of time off, Al­wyn­dor be­came aware of Face­book posts that in­di­cated Mr Smyth was in In­dia at­tend­ing the mar­riage of a rel­a­tive of his wife.”

Al­wyn­dor ac­cused Mr Smyth of mis­lead­ing them about the rea­son for his ab­sence and sought an ex­pla­na­tion but the em­ployee re­fused to an­swer any ques­tions. He was then sacked.

The tri­bunal was told that Mr Smyth had a sick cer­tifi­cate for the two days of his daugh­ter’s bap­tism in Jan­uary 2016 – which also fol­lowed an un­suc­cess­ful leave re­quest.

Dur­ing his ev­i­dence, Mr Smyth said the tickets to In­dia were pur­chased on May 7 and he thought it was a co­in­ci­dence that his doc­tor pro­vided him with the same time off. He said he was given an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain him­self at the meeting with HR but re­fused.

Mr Smyth’s doc­tor also gave ev­i­dence, say­ing he pro­vided the sick cer­tifi­cates be­cause he be­lieved his pa­tient was de­pressed fol­low­ing his re­lease from jail.

Al­wyn­dor’s then-gen­eral man­ager Travis Hill told the tri­bunal that he be­lieved Mr Smyth had ex­ag­ger­ated his ill­ness to the doc­tor to go to In­dia. He said Mr Smyth was ar­ro­gant in that fi­nal meeting and had a “you can’t touch me” kind of at­ti­tude.

In his de­ci­sion, Mr McMa­hon said there was no dis­pute that Mr Smyth had a gen­uine ill­ness in July 2016 but Al­wyn­dor had rea­son­able grounds to sus­pect it was be­ing mis­led.

He found Al­wyn­dor would not have fired Mr Smyth had he fur­ther dis­cussed his ab­sence with HR.

PHOTO: IS­TOCK

HOL­I­DAY BUNGLE: A man was sacked af­ter his boss found a Face­book post of him in In­dia for a wed­ding dur­ing sick leave.

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