Fraudulent employee sicknotes

Question

I have a question regarding a disciplinary hearing for an employee who has submitted numerous sick notes that have been fraudulently issued and signed by a medical institution.  As we became suspicious about the notes not reflecting any telephone or reference number and also no doctor’s name and practice number, an enquiry was made to the medical institution as to the authenticity of the documents. They verbally confirmed that the documents submitted were not valid sick notes from their institution and neither did the signatures match those of the doctors employed there. A written confirmation to this effect has been requested.  I need to ascertain if such fraudulent action can be regarded as a serious infringement and whether the employee can be summarily dismissed because of this without any oral and/or written warnings?

Answer

The question is whether or not the fraudulent misrepresentation by the employee has caused a breakdown in the relationship of trust between the employee and his employer.  From the facts furnished, it seems that there is a pattern of repeated fraudulent misrepresentation by the employee which has potential to cause, or has already caused, damage to the employer. Dishonest behaviour by an employee and repeatedly so, as in this instance, may be treated as very serious misconduct, which goes to the heart of the employment relationship and justifies a summary dismissal.  In order to observe the principle of fairness, theemployee should be charged with gross misconduct on the basis that he repeatedly misrepresented and presented fraudulent documents to the employer and he must be given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations.If the misconduct is proven at the disciplinary hearing, dismissal will be a suitable outcome. Previous warnings are not a requirement where an employee’sconduct has caused the irretrievable breakdown in the trust relationship between the parties. 

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