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Woman sacked after child played in créche toilet bowl gets €15k

The tribunal ruled that too much blame was attributed to the créche worker over the incident.

Image: Shutterstock

A CRÈCHE WORKER who lost her job after a toddler wandered into the bathroom and began playing in the toilet bowl has been awarded €15,000 for unfair dismissal.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruled that Paula Fox was unfairly dismissed in 2011 from Clevercloggs Full Day Care Nursery Ltd in County Monaghan.

The tribunal heard that the young child, referred to in the ruling as a ‘wobbler’ as they were learning to walk, was left the room unaccompanied on at least two occasions.

Reputation

A parent also complained that the child was left on its own. The owner of the crèche said she felt such an incident “would damage the reputation of the créche”.

Five incidents were listed to the tribunal for Fox’s dismissal. Fox did not deny the incidents had occurred but argued that that staff-to-child ratio policies were not adhered to.

She confirmed that the incident where the child started playing in the toilet bowl was when her colleague was on a break and admitted that it was “neglectful”.

She stated that someone should have been in the room with her at that stage as she had 5 children in the sleeping room and four were awake.

Sacked

Under cross examination she agreed that she signed minutes of the meetings but didn’t know that the statements given about her could be challenged. She said that doors had to be left open to keep an eye on the babies when she was changing nappies and toddlers.

She never considered that she might lose her job and was devastated by the entire incident.

A formal disciplinary meeting took place on 5 April, where they advised her to bring a representative, but she didn’t do so.

“Statements were read to her and she didn’t refute any allegation but said that it had been a stressful day and if someone had been working with her none of it would have happened,” stated the tribunal’s ruling report.

In considering the evidence given in this case regarding the incidents involving the claimant the tribunal found that the dismissal of the claimant was unfair.

Childproof

It noted that the créche owner had failed to provide any adequate childproof door closing mechanism to ensure that the children could not escape from the rooms.

The tribunal also noted that the créche owner did not bring the matters to the attention of the parents even though they viewed them as very serious incidents.

It was also determined that in each incident to much blame was apportioned to the claimant and her part in each matter did not individually or collectively amount to misconduct.

While the tribunal did state that Fox contributed to her dismissal to a moderate degree, they ruled that compensation be awarded to the sum of €15,000 under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007.

Read: Woman sacked for cursing and flirting at work fights back – gets €12,500>

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