Ross Collins left work early after telling his employers he had an upset stomach. However, just hours later some colleagues saw pictures of him at Gatwick Airport with a burger and a pint
Image: Alamy Live News.)
A man who asked his boss to leave work early as he felt sick was sacked after being photographed at an airport hours later with a burger and pint, a tribunal has heard.
Ross Collins had booked time off work for a trip to Cyprus from Friday, October 19, 2018.
However, his flight was due to take off 24 hours earlier, on October 18, the tribunal heard.
In order to catch his plane, the medical firm manager told his employers he had an “upset stomach” and wanted to check on his partner who was “nearly 12 weeks pregnant”.
However, he was caught out when some of his colleagues saw a photo on social media of him enjoying a meal and a drink at Gatwick Airport just three and a half hours after leaving work.
Mr Collins was sacked for gross misconduct and later sued for unfair dismissal, but his claims were rejected by an employment tribunal.
A hearing was told Mr Collins had been employed by STERIS Instrument Management Service for more than 12 years.
The company, part of a larger American corporation, is a leading industry expert in “managing surgical instruments and devices”.
At the time of the incident, Mr Collins was working as a workshop supervisor at the company’s site in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
The Watford tribunal heard he had booked a flight for two adults from Gatwick Airport to Larnaca on the southern coast of Cyprus, leaving at 3.25pm on October 18.
However, he had only arranged for three days off from work – starting the following day.
On the morning of the flight, the tribunal heard Mr Collins went to work, but he was complaining he “felt unwell” and was seen “rubbing his stomach”.
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He asked colleagues for pain relief medication but reported his illness to a manager later that morning.
The tribunal also heard Mr Collins told his boss he was “worried about his partner” who was “in the early stages of her pregnancy and was also unwell”.
He was allowed to leave as he “said he was sick and that he wanted to seek medical attention for his partner” and told another boss the time could be “deducted from his overtime hours”, the tribunal heard.
However, three and a half hours after leaving work, Mr Collins’ partner uploaded a photo to social media showing him “at the airport eating a burger [and] chips and drinking a pint”.
Other posts made clear the pair were “on their way to Larnaca, Cyprus”.
Upon returning to work, Mr Collins was subject to a disciplinary investigation and later dismissed.
He appealed his dismissal and eventually launched complaints of unfair dismissal against his employer, arguing he had overtime and “wanted to take this time back”.
He admitted he should have informed his bosses his flight was that day and not the day after, but argued he had never questioned colleagues who “left work to watch a football game”.
Concluding, Employment Judge Stephen Bedeau said: “[The tribunal is] satisfied that the reason why (Mr Collins) was dismissed was that he had lied to [his employers] as to the reason for him leaving on 18 October 2018.
“[Mr Collins] had initially booked his flight to start from 18 October 2018, the day he had not booked as holiday.
“There was every reason to believe that because of the pressure on him and his partner to arrive at the airport in time, he left work on 18 October late morning.”