Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Modern technology brings concerns

Modern technology in the workplace is a vital tool, but should never be used to take shortcuts - that's the message from our Employment Law Specialist, John Mehtam.

"In today’s competitive marketplace, no business would be able to survive without the very latest technology.
But there have been a number of cases where its use has just been a step too far.

“From the workers who were sacked with a phone message, to the employee who texted his employer to say he would be off sick, there are many cases which illustrate how modern technology can be exploited for all the wrong reasons.”

John said an employment tribunal had decided the employees from an engineering firm who were sacked by telephone had been unfairly dismissed, missing out on wages, holiday pay, pension contributions and redundancy pay. “Some of the workers did not receive the telephone message and turned up for work as usual the next day, where they were turned away, which is just unacceptable.” The staff affected by the case have now won compensation and are waiting to hear how much the will receive.

“In the case of the employee who sent text messages to his employer to say he would be off work, he was actually sacked. This was because the company said he failed to follow procedures for reporting sickness or absence – but an employment tribunal decided he had been unfairly dismissed, and said a drop of common sense should have been applied to sort out the situation.

“But this case just shows that practices such as text messaging which are now so commonplace for the large majority of the population can cause real difficulties in the world of business.

“The best approach is to use modern technology to help make your business effective and competitive, but don’t use it to take shortcuts that could cause confusion and misunderstandings.”