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Care home firm wrong to sack worker who allowed colleague to fall asleep on night shift

Care home firm wrong to sack worker who allowed colleague to fall asleep on night shift

A Crieff care home worker who allowed a colleague to doze off on night shift was unfairly dismissed, an employment tribunal has ruled.

It decided management staff of Ashdene Court in Ferntower Road were wrong to have regarded Ewa Horakova’s misconduct as “gross”.

She was at fault for allowing her colleague to go to sleep, however, and the tribunal reduced her compensation by 25%. Ashdene Management Services Ltd was ordered to pay her just over £4,000.

On the night of October 2/3 last year Miss Horakova, 40, was on duty with colleague Cheryl Hunter, and they went to the sitting room for a break at about 3.30am.

Manager Susan Ferguson and deputy Stacey Rodger arrived on a spot check, and found Ewa Horakova sitting on a seat with her feet on another and a blanket round her legs, and Cheryl Hunter in a similar position.

Ewa Horakova immediately got up to check on a resident, but the manager and her deputy got the impression Cheryl Hunter was asleep, and she subsequently said she “must have dozed off.”

Miss Horakova maintained she did not see her colleague sleeping and was laughing and joking with her five minutes before the managers arrived. The explanation was rejected as she was the senior staff member on duty and it was her responsibility to ensure colleagues carried out their duties.

Christine McLeod of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, representing Miss Horakova, said at no point had the home’s management alleged her client was not alert.

Miss Horakova had a flawless disciplinary record and there was no rule that said inadvertently allowing a colleague to nod off for five minutes amounted to gross misconduct.

The tribunal, chaired by judge Muriel Robison, ruled that sacking was unfair, as no reasonable employer would have dismissed an employee who was found guilty of the one act of misconduct.

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