25 November 2016 #Employment
You may have seen in the news the case of Mrs Wood, a senior nurse, who recorded her colleague’s temperature on a screening form at Heathrow Airport as 37.2C despite knowing it to be at least one degree higher. Protocol at the time specified that any temperature recorded over 37.5C should be investigated for the presence of Ebola. Mrs Wood marked the temperature down as 37.2C reportedly saying “let’s put it down as 37.2 and get out of here and sort it out later”. Mrs Wood’s colleague subsequently became ill with the disease the very next day. Mrs Wood has been deemed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s disciplinary panel to have been ‘dishonest’.
Although the Nursing and Midwifery Council has yet to decide whether Mrs Wood’s behaviour constituted misconduct and whether she is fit to continue practising as a nurse. This case serves as a useful reminder that dishonesty (rather than poor judgement) in the workplace can be considered a disciplinary offence and potentially be grounds for dismissal depending on the severity and nature of the dishonesty, the position held and the company’s policy. Those in a senior position or position of trust are often expected to operate at a higher level of integrity compared to other employees.
To protect your business, it is important to have a workplace policy that clearly sets out the employee’s duty of good faith and honesty and consequences for dishonest conduct. Employers should also make employees aware of such a policy and ensure they are consistent when imposing discipline. If you would like such a policy drafted or more information on how to deal with dishonesty in the workplace, please contact our employment team.