Lawyer warns over potential consequences of pulling a sickie this Monday

A senior employment lawyer has stressed that employees in Scotland who falsely call in sick this Monday to make the most of lockdown restrictions loosening could face disciplinary action.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 7:00 am

Legal firm Lindsays said it had not had any clients get in touch about the prospects of staff calling in sick that day, or heard there is an expectation of this scenario.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently confirmed that Scotland will, as of April 26, see venues including pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, museums and galleries able to again welcome customers.

Those to have highlighted their reopening that day include high-street retailer Primark, which has extended opening hours across almost its stores north of the Border, and PureGym, which said it expects 120,000 workouts to take place at its 25 Scottish gyms over the course of next week. Additionally, Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars expects around half of its pubs in Scotland to reopen on Monday.

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Venues including beer gardens are set to see customers return this Monday (file image). Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

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Monday also sees the resuming of unrestricted travel within Scotland, England and Wales being allowed.

Ben Doherty, partner and head of employment at Lindsays, said that in general, any issues emerging from employees calling in sick are treated as “part of a pattern”, such as regular absences on a Friday or Monday, rather than a one-off.

Therefore, from an employer’s point of view, someone ringing in sick this Monday “might not be an issue in itself”.

He added: “However, if an employer becomes aware of someone who has phoned in sick and has gone to a beer garden or out shopping – because they have been pictured on social media, for example – they can take disciplinary action.

"If someone is found to have called in, said they are unable to work and then gone for a drink or out shopping, that’s misconduct because they have lied to their boss.”

Mr Doherty also pointed out the situation was different for anyone signed off work for health-related issues.

“[Such employees] can go to the pub or go shopping because they have a doctor’s note excusing them from work,” he said. “In some cases, it may even be said that it’s part of their rehabilitation to be able to socialise.”

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