Fired after using a crisp packet to block PDA

crisp-packet

As an employer, you may sometimes despair at the antics of your staff. If so, perhaps spare a thought for an Australian employer who was left with a sour taste in the mouth following a crisp packet and personal digital assistant (PDA) caper.

The employee in question lost his job after an anonymous tip-off that he had played golf 140 times in the space of 2 years during work time.

In an ingenious stunt, the crafty but seemingly well-read golf devotee placed his PDA in an empty foil packet of crisps to create a “Faraday cage”, blocking signals to his device. This had the effect of preventing his employer knowing his whereabouts.

The employee has lost his case in the Australian equivalent of the employment tribunal, which concluded that he had been “deliberately mischievous in acting in this manner”.

This case serves as a useful reminder of the standard of proof relevant to employment claims.

In common with all other civil matters, that standard is ‘on the balance of probabilities’, rather than the criminal ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. This means that as an employer you only have to be convinced on a probability of 51% or more that a given event took place.

It is therefore not a question of “proof” and is a hurdle which in many cases will not be difficult to overcome.

As for the writer, having placed his phone in a crisp packet the signal does not appear to be blocked and so he will be at his desk, rather than the golf course, for the foreseeable future.

Please contact a member of our Employment Law team if you have any questions or queries about this or any employment issue.

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