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Sacked for being off sick - I want your views on this

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tubeway | 12:14 Sat 06th Mar 2010 | Jobs & Education
12 Answers
My youngest son completed his engineering apprenticeship at a large international company last September. Due to the economic climate they did not take on any apprentices - so he got a temporary job that was as an engineer. When that work finished he got another job (not engineering) for a security company - it was not his sort of thing but he wanted to work. He then got offered a job for a large manufacturing company local to us as an engineer - which is just what he was looking for. The first 3 months were to be training on the machines - and then join his shift. he was told that he would have to buy his own tools - which he spent a lot of money on - but saw it as an investment in his future.
He had been there for 2 weeks - and was happy and doing well (he was told) when last weekend he came down with winter vomiting sickness. It was a geniune illness and it spread through the family like wildfire. After being very ill on the Sunday night he texted his manager and contacted the gatehouse (as per company procedure) to say that he could not go to work on Monday. He was off sick for another day and went back to work on Wednesday.
On Thursday afternoon he was called up to the office and told that he was being sacked. He said that it was a geniune illness and the first time that he had taken any sick for over 3 years (he was not even paid sick). He was told that they did not care he was going. He was told that his training was not going well either - his manager was there and said that he was behind in his training but that was not my sons fault. My son was then told that the decision had been made and he was going.
I know that he has only been there 2 weeks so has no legal rights - but is there anything that he can do. He has done nothing wrong at all (In fact if he had gone in this could have closed the factory it spreads so easily).
What do you think he should do?
What should he have done?
What do you think of this company?


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I think he should look for another job, and claim benefits in the meantime.

I think if you're not well enough to go into work, you don't go in.

they're like any other company, and are only concerned with their own business needs.
Disgusting! Some companies think they can what they like,such as mine who break every employment law going and still they get away with it.
Since Thatcher emasculated the Unions and New Labour failed to repeal any of it, Companies can (and do) treat employees as dirt.
As you say, if he has worked there for only two weeks he cannot claim unfair dismissal in these circumstances. It's an upsetting situation but all he could try is appealing to the firm to reconsider But I doubt he'll get anywhere. I don't think the full potted history you have given is of any significance to the employer or this issue, I'm afraid.
Hi canary -when you say 'new Labour failed to repeal any of it' what do you mean?
What haven't they repealed that they should have done?

Buildersmate will be the best to give advice to tubeway although I don't think he's been around for a while.
Did they want a sick note, and he didn't provide one from a doctor?
It's appalling. In the health service nowadays, they have this sickness absence policy that was intended to disencourage the malingerers, but it is very unfair with those of us who are rarely off sick. I got a certificate from my NHS trust to mark the fact that I had not taken one day's sick leave over the course of the previous 12 months (2008-9), but then I took one day's leave because of a really bad cold and I have completley ruined my record (according to them) for 2009-2010. And then the people who are off sick for genuine reasons will come in to work anyway, and breathe all their germs over everyone else. Madness, just madness ....
At cadets, i'm now doing my cooking badge and the instructor said not to come in on the practical nights if you're the slightest bit ill, write down your recipe and method, do the cooking at home and bring it in, when you're better. And according to the instructor, who used to work as a chef, his staff weren't allowed to come into work if they were ill at all and couldn't come back untill the doctor had confirmed that they were completely better for at least 2 days.

So, shouldn't an employer be thankful that your son didn't come in and make everyone ill, i'm sure they'd rather have one person off than a whole team of people.
Mollykins- I think there's probably a bit more to this case than being sick. I think the employer wanted to get rid after two weeks as they weren't happy with performance and then going sick within 2 weeks gave them an excuse to dismiss. I also wonder whether notifying illness by text was really in line with the company procedures.

The issue for employers with absence is capability. I'm sure this employee was genuinely ill but there comes a point where employee absence-whether genuine or not- causes a problem and procedures have to be followed. For new employees this can mean dismissal.

Tubeway- did he get proper paid notice- maybe a week?
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Question Author
factor30 - The whole point is that he was fired just because he was off sick - I have since heard that the company always does this to people who take time off sick during their first 6 months. The training issue was just a smokescreen (the manager seemed surprised that it was even mentioned) - My son had done everything that was asked of him during training - it was the companies fault (not enough time) that there was an issue (if there really was one).
The company procedure for reporting sick is to contact the gatehouse as soon as possible (which my son did) - texting his manager was in addition to this because he did not want antone to feel that he was letting them down.
He has been paid one week notice.
It appears that they can insist that you buy your own tools - it is quite common in some professions (motor mechanics for instance)
But although it may seem unfair the employer has every right to do this. I mentioned the training issue because you had mentioned it. I suspect there was a combination of reasons why they wanted to get rid of him. It seems cruel and unfair but they don't seem to have broken the law as you yourself have acknowledged. So I'm not sure what answer you are hoping for.
I think Eddie may be right about tools though.

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