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Legal Updates

Unhealthy use of surveillance

27 April 2011 #Employment

With UK employees taking an average of 10 unscheduled days off work per year, costing businesses an estimated at £32bn a year, it`s no wonder that employers want to do all they can to manage sickness absences.  However, as Pacey v Caterpillar Logistics Services (UK) Ltd (2011) demonstrates, employers don`t always go about managing the problem in the right way. 

In this case, the employment tribunal upheld the employee`s claim for unfair dismissal and criticised the employer`s reliance on a surveillance film in its decision to dismiss the employee.  Mr Pacey was dismissed for falsely claiming sick pay, after managers reviewed a film which showed him carrying out various activities whilst off sick.  However, his employers had failed to get any input from the employer`s occupational health doctor on this surveillance film.  Whilst the tribunal acknowledged that the employee appeared on film to be able to do many things, it would require an appropriately qualified medical professional to properly assess the extent of Mr Pacey`s injury and his ability to work.  Consequently, in the absence of any medical opinion on the matter, Mr Pacey`s dismissal was unfair.

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