PTO palaver | Worker sacked after running into boss on 'unauthorised' holiday... then wins £10k at tribunal

Worker sacked after running into boss on 'unauthorised' holiday... then wins £10k at tribunal

A salesman who was sacked after running into one of his bosses, while on an 'unauthorised' holiday, has been awarded the equivalent of £10,000 compensation at a tribunal for wrongful dismissal.

Gary Maloney was unfairly dismissed from his job at Bill Griffin Motors in Dublin, according to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), after returning from a break in Portugal, with conflicting reports over whether his time off had been approved by his employer.

Mr Maloney only discovered he'd lost his job after returning to work to find a colleague sitting at his desk.

It appeared that his boss had no knowledge of his whereabouts, despite him having crossed paths with one of the company's directors during his holiday.

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Mr Maloney claimed he’d asked for annual leave three months in advance and was told by the firm’s managing director, Dave Griffin, that it should be "fine".

After returning to work, he was instructed to return home and await a call from a director, only to discover later that his employment had been terminated in October 2022.

Astonishingly, he had not undergone any form of investigation or received any warnings prior to his abrupt dismissal. Having served at Bill Griffin Motors for slightly over a year, Maloney found himself without employment until March 2023, estimating his losses at a staggering sum of more than €19,000 (£16,200).

Defending the company's actions, legal representatives argued that Mr Maloney had not been dismissed but had voluntarily resigned from his position.

The company's holiday policy, it was stated, ruled that written leave requests had to be submitted at least four weeks in advance. Bill Griffin Motors claimed that Dave Griffin had instructed Mr Maloney to alter his holiday dates, but no written request for such changes had been received.

It was during the course of the hearing that the evidence emerged that Mr Maloney had forwarded a photograph to a coworker, showing him in the company of Dave Griffin's brother, Robert, whom he had unexpectedly encountered in Portugal.

Griffin himself claimed to have seen the salesman at a Portuguese bar on the same day.

The company alleged that Mr Maloney had resumed work after his trip abroad, and had encountered customer complaints and a decline in sales. He was instructed by his supervisor to maintain a low profile and extend apologies to his colleagues, with Dave Griffin slated to address the matter the following day, as reported by the Irish Mirror.

Nevertheless, Bill Griffin Motors contended that Maloney had returned his laptop with a casual remark: "Ah, we'll leave it. I'm done anyway." Maloney's colleague, Mr. O'Donnell, argued that there was no intention to terminate his employment, as they had enjoyed a harmonious professional relationship. However, he pointed out that the salesman had failed to return his company phone and car keys.

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Davnet O'Driscoll, the decision-maker at the WRC, acknowledged the conflicting accounts regarding Mr Maloney's leave request and the circumstances surrounding his departure.

Ms. O'Driscoll highlighted the firm's submission of letters sent to Maloney in October 2022, addressing his unscheduled holiday and the significant disruptions it had caused to both staff and customers, alongside a request for written resignation. Mr Maloney vehemently denied receiving any such correspondence or calls.

Ultimately, Ms. O'Driscoll concurred with Mr Maloney's assertion that he had been instructed to await a call from his boss, Dave Griffin, and observed a lack of evidence supporting any form of inquiry or action taken following Mr Maloney's return from leave.

Consequently, she deemed his termination unfair on both procedural and substantive grounds. Despite his claimed losses amounting to €19,026 (£16,236), she awarded him €12,500 (£10,667).

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