Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Tribunal washes its hands of case

A Telford solicitor has welcomed a tribunal ruling that upheld a decision to sack a baker for failing to wash his hands.

John Mehtam is the employment law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and he said the experienced baker should have known better.

“The case involved well-known bakers Greggs who sacked the employee after he failed to wash his hands before returning to a food production area. He had claimed that their actions were too harsh, but the tribunal threw the case out, saying he could not now be trusted to follow hand-washing rules and so he posed an unacceptable risk to the company’s customers and reputation.”

The baker admitted he was aware how important it was to wash his hands, and confirmed that staff training and the company handbook had made it very clear.

“For Greggs, it was obvious that taking a zero-tolerance approach was a reasonable and sound decision because in their industry an outbreak of illness traced back to them could have serious consequences for their reputation and success as a business.

“And given that the baker had 11 years’ service in the job – and experience in the food industry of over 25 years – he really should have known better.”

Mr Mehtam said the tribunal’s decision reinforced the need for companies to have clear and robust procedures in place, as well as the importance of ensuring all staff understood their responsibilities.

“In this case, it was the company’s hygiene rules that were broken, but similar circumstances would arise if it was a breach of a company’s health and safety procedures too.

“Workplace legislation is constantly changing, and it’s vital that employers ensure their policies and procedures are up-to-date. This is easier said than done though, given the pace of change, and the time pressures business owners face, so taking professional advice can be crucial.

“Our experts have a wealth of experience in this area and we can review a company’s existing systems and practices, and help draw up a plan moving forward that will ensure both staff and your company’s reputation are protected.”