Case for unfair dismissal?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by riiseuk, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. riiseuk

    riiseuk UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 1 Likes: 0
    Hi everyone, I'm not sure if this should go here so apologies in advance.

    My query is about an incident I come across at work. Basically there is a microwave in the canteen, now, one employee used it, but didn't turn the dial back to 0 which meant the microwave carried on rotating. 10 minutes after the microwave caught on fire (Which I thought a bit strange).

    Now the person who last used it is now being threatened with dismissal. For a pretty innocent accident could they actually do this? I just can't understand how that would be a fair reaction. Are there policies for such events?

    Thankyou, Carl.
    Posted: Jan 13, 2013 By: riiseuk Member since: Jan 13, 2013
    #1
  2. Steve Sellers

    Steve Sellers UKBF Newcomer Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 4,052 Likes: 1,198
    Would it be fair if this employees negligence had led to your death if the building had caught fire?
    Posted: Jan 13, 2013 By: Steve Sellers Member since: Aug 7, 2011
    #2
  3. BarbaraF

    BarbaraF UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    Posts: 4,334 Likes: 682
    An employer has the responsibility to ensure the workplace is safe for it's employees and if one employee has demonstrated that he may endanger others, the employer have to take the accident seriously.

    I'm with Steve on this one.

    Barbara
    Posted: Jan 13, 2013 By: BarbaraF Member since: Jan 26, 2007
    #3
  4. tony84

    tony84 UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    Posts: 3,976 Likes: 614
    Ive used some rubbish microwaves in the past where its guess work as to how long the timer is on for and how hot it is - i just took my food out every 30 seconds or so until it was hot.

    To me it seems a bit harsh, whether i died or someone else did its a genuine mistake and im not sure a microwave should be setting on fire after 10 minutes of being on. Id be arguing it to the hilt.

    The company may have a responsibility to investigate the matter but i would be very surprised if your friend was sacked, id certainly argue it if were me. I would argue it even if it were a warning.

    I have no legal experience by the way, its just my opinion.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
    Posted: Jan 13, 2013 By: tony84 Member since: Apr 14, 2008
    #4
  5. TurricanII

    TurricanII UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 106 Likes: 14
    You could try ringing ACAS for advice..

    I am not a lawyer/HR pro, just a small business owner.

    Was the microwave broken? I haven't seen a microwave that did not auto-shut off. If it was broken then I would hope that the onus was on the employer to maintain/fix it.

    Also as most other microwaves turn themselves off then I think a lot of people might put their dinner in for two mins and then forget to come back for a while.

    But as you say he did not turn the dial back to zero, that suggests he took his food out and did not bother to turn the microwave off when he shut the door and it fired itself back up. Which does sound careless..
    Posted: Jan 13, 2013 By: TurricanII Member since: Oct 23, 2009
    #5
  6. internetspaceships

    internetspaceships Banned Full Member

    Posts: 6,995 Likes: 2,329
    Is there a policy for someone who hasn't got the common sense to turn the dial to zero after he's finished?

    Are people supposed to cater for and allow for complete idiots all the time? When does common sense come into play. If he gave enough of a **** about his fellow workers he would have taken the time to ensure it was safe.

    Just like he would have done in his own home with his family....
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
    Posted: Jan 13, 2013 By: internetspaceships Member since: Sep 7, 2009
    #6
  7. Steve Sellers

    Steve Sellers UKBF Newcomer Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 4,052 Likes: 1,198

    Idea for new policy to push onto my clients "dealing with stupidity policy" just in case any whining employee feels it is unfair as there is no policy to "account for stupidity".

    Scope:

    The scope of this policy is to cover all idiotic behaviour.

    Policy:

    Don't do anything stupid.

    Rules:

    Don't lick the inside of the freezer;
    Don't set off fireworks whilst in the employees bath;
    When it says dont poke through at the animals dont poke through at the animals;

    EDIT delete all of the above and replace with:

    JUST DON'T BE SO DUMB OR WE WILL SACK THE POOP OUT OF YOU!!!!
    Posted: Jan 14, 2013 By: Steve Sellers Member since: Aug 7, 2011
    #7
  8. Billmccallum

    Billmccallum UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    Posts: 4,183 Likes: 1,070
    Barbara is quite right about employers responsibility, but employees "have to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and of other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work." see http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/law/hsaw.htm

    If the person in question just happened to burn down the building, he/she could have killed all the staff or put them all out of a job, would anyone be so understanding...I think not.

    At the very least a written warning.
    Posted: Jan 14, 2013 By: Billmccallum Member since: Apr 20, 2010
    #8
  9. sjbeale

    sjbeale UKBF Ace Full Member

    Posts: 1,117 Likes: 187
    I think the company needs to do a full investigation including looking at what happened with the microwave - it could have been faulty. After doing the investigation they should then decide if there is a case to answer in relation to a disciplinary hearing. If they terminate him without investigating fully they could receive an unfair dismissal claim.
    Posted: Jan 14, 2013 By: sjbeale Member since: Jul 8, 2005
    #9
  10. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    Posts: 4,978 Likes: 1,086
    A few ?

    Was the machine pat tested
    Was instructions on use available or had they been warned how to use the machine
    I would expect the company to investigate fully the cause of the fire and then make a desision on the known facts to either remove the problem or to take any disaplinary action if negligence was proven

    I doulbt dismissal would be a option unless deliberate
    Posted: Jan 14, 2013 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #10
  11. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 2,177 Likes: 543
    Microwaves that have dials let you turn the dial to the number of minutes that you want to 'cook' your food. What on earth was he cooking that he set the dial in excess of 10 minutes in the first place? That is where the negligence first lies. There is then the compounding negligence of not turning the dial off when he had finished.

    I would suggest that this is a serious breach of health and safety, and dismissal may well fall within the range of responses of a reasonable employer.

    If there were no instructions, or if the microwave were faulty, there may be mitigation, but it still sounds like an incredibly stupid thing to have done, with possible disastrous consequences.
    Posted: Jan 14, 2013 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #11
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  12. Podge

    Podge UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 1,154 Likes: 366
    There seems to be quite a lot of assumptions here from the scant information provided.

    Firstly who's to say that the microwave was on for 10 minutes?
    the poster says ten minutes later.

    If the employee used the microwave and then closed the door with ten minutes on the timer then yes they were careless, if they could see that the microwave turntable was still rotating and did nothing about it then they were negligent.

    But we don't know what happened. For all we know the person could have removed their food and left the door open and somebody else could have closed it making them negligent.

    Without knowing the sequence of events it's hard to say who is responsible. I know if I warm something in the microwave I quite often turn the dial to ten minutes but when I've removed what I have heated I leave the door open, as I think a lot of people will.
    Posted: Jan 14, 2013 By: Podge Member since: Jan 13, 2011
    #12
  13. natalieem100

    natalieem100 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 3 Likes: 0
    Hi,

    I've used ACAS before and weren't great and hard to find specific information that relates to detailed issues like this. Have you tried Law Express? As used them last time for a HR matter and were really good!
    Posted: Jan 17, 2013 By: natalieem100 Member since: Jan 17, 2013
    #13