Dismissed worker awarded £7,800 despite false accident statement

A warehouse worker who gave false evidence about a workplace accident has been awarded £7,800 for unfair dismissal.

George Hope worked as a warehouse operative for United Biscuits in Scotland. He suffered a double fracture of his ankle in an incident that became the centre of the case.

Immediately after the accident, he made a statement saying he had injured himself trying to step over a pallet.

United Biscuits took statements from other employees who had witnessed the incident and their stories did not match up with Hope’s as to how he fell off the pallet.

Managers reviewed CCTV footage of the accident and saw that Hope had fallen while climbing an upturned pallet and stretching up to reach a radio.

A phone interview with Hope was conducted and this time he said he was getting pallets when he felt a twinge in his ankle but didn’t think anything of it. He said he went to turn the radio down and knew something was wrong when he came off the pallet afterwards.

Hope was asked whether he wished to change his statement, but he said there was nothing to change.

Numerous meetings and interviews took place resulting in Hope’s employment being terminated for gross misconduct.

He brought claims of unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled in his favour.

It said that no reasonable employer would have believed that Hope’s initial statement was intentionally disingenuous, as it was taken when Hope was in pain.

Judge Woolfson said: “United Biscuits had little regard to Hope having provided an explanation, at the first opportunity he was given after the night of the accident, which was a much more accurate account of events, and saying that he had been in a great deal of pain and could not remember what he had said due to the pain and that he had not in fact tripped over a pallet.”

United Biscuits were ordered to pay Hope a sum of £7,844.87 for loss of wages.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of employment law.

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