Man off sick with ‘back in­jury’ went to gym

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Gor­don Dee­gan

A MAN who was on sick leave af­ter claim­ing he had a back and neck in­jury con­tin­ued go­ing to the gym, run­ning on a tread­mill and lift­ing weights of up to 60kg.

The man, a ticket in­spec­tor for a pub­lic trans­port com­pany, was caught out by a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor hired by his em­ployer – who dis­missed him from his post.

The man sued for un­fair dis­missal but the Work­place Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion this week up­held the de­ci­sion to sack him.

The WRC ruled that, on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­ity, the man had been lift­ing weights and run­ning on a tread­mill as de­scribed by the pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

WRC ad­ju­di­ca­tor Eu­gene Hanly heard that the man, who is un­named in the rul­ing, had com­plained of back and neck pain aris­ing from a work­place in­ci­dent in May 2016.

He re­ported strik­ing his head and back on an up­right pole fol­low­ing a brak­ing ma­noeu­vre, which caused him to lose his foot­ing.

A med­i­cal as­sess­ment on be­half of the em­ployer, who was not named in the rul­ing, re­sulted in his be­ing cer­ti­fied off for two days. He con­tin­ued to sup­ply med­i­cal cer­tifi­cates and re­mained on sick leave for ten weeks.

Video footage of the May 2016 failed to sup­port the em­ployee’s claims about the in­ci­dent. In ad­di­tion, the man had a record of ab­sen­teeism and the com­pany de­cided to hire a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tor re­ported that the man was seen driv­ing to a gym and had been seen op­er­at­ing heavy weights and run­ning on the tread­mill. The man was twice re­ferred to the com­pany doc­tor who ad­vised that lift­ing and run­ning were not in keep­ing with phys­i­cal ther­apy for such a back and neck in­jury.

In his ev­i­dence, the ticket in­spec­tor said he was an ex­pe­ri­enced gym user and his GP had rec­om­mended us­ing the gym at his own dis­cre­tion. He de­nied us­ing weights and run­ning on the tread­mill.

He ar­gued that the sanc­tion of dis­missal had been too se­vere and al­ter­na­tives should have been ex­plored.

The pub­lic trans­port firm said the man had abused the com­pany’s sick leave scheme, which rep­re­sented a breach of trust.

Mr Hanly ruled that the com­pany ‘had dis­cov­ered a very se­ri­ous breach con­cern­ing hon­esty, in­tegrity, trust and con­fi­dence’, and the dis­missal had been ‘sub­stan­tively fair’.

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