A warehouse worker from Glasgow has won his Employment Tribunal for unfair and wrongful dismissal after his employer had dismissed him for lying about a health and safety incident that occurred at work.

The warehouse worker sprained his ankle while working as a warehouse operative while working for United Biscuits and was subsequently dismissed for lying during the investigation and misleading the investigators.

United Biscuits alleged that the warehouse worker had provided false information to investigators and that the warehouse worker colluded with other staff to provide false and misleading information.

The tribunal ruled that United Biscuits did not take into consideration the fact that the investigation happened in the direct aftermath of the incident and that the injured Warehouse Worker was in a high level of pain while giving their statement.  The employment tribunal ruled that no reasonable employer would have believed the warehouse workers initial statement due to the circumstances and also stated the warehouse workers statement, that was then being used as the sole focus of the investigation, was targeted and dishonest.

The employment tribunal statement added that no consideration was given to the warehouse workers statement that was updated at the earliest opportunity and no consideration was given the fact that the warehouse worker was in severe pain when they were providing their initial statement in the aftermath of the accident.

After the initial investigation, the HR Manager wrote to the warehouse worker to inform them that they were to be suspended for “knowingly providing a false statement” during the H&S investigation.

When asked why they give false information, the warehouse worker claimed that they were in shock and pain and ‘couldn’t remember why’. 

After a further disciplinary meeting, the HR Manager detailed that providing a false and misleading statement during an investigation was considered gross misconduct, as was colluding with a colleague. Whilst United Biscuits acknowledged that the warehouse worker was in pain when they gave their initial statement, the HR Manager had ‘reasonable belief’ that the warehouse worker had lied and colluded to mislead the business and as a result terminated the warehouse workers employment.

The Employment Tribunal ruled that United Biscuits must pay Hope a sum of £7,844.87 to the warehouse worker for loss of wages.

Caroline Wood, Director at HR Heroes said:  “The demonstrated that having a reasonable and considered investigation process is key during this process. Ensuring key processes are detailed and followed is critical as it prevents this type of scenario from arising…prevention is always better than cure!”