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Sacked nursing home care worker 'found asleep on the job' was not unfairly dismissed - WRC

The worker was found to move chairs out of the view of CCTV cameras.

Image: Shutterstock

A CARE WORKER was found sleeping on two chairs in a staff kitchen at a nursing home while a daughter of a patient was frantically looking for a staff member in an emergency situation for her mother. 

The daughter of the patient stated that it was difficult to awaken the care worker in question during her night duty and she found another staff member who promptly got the nurse on duty without delay. 

The sleeping carer was one of two carers and one nurse tasked with looking after 23 patients during the night duty.

The nursing home received a complaint over the care-worker being found asleep on the job. 

The care assistant had been employed by the nursing home for nine years until her dismissal on 2 June 2017 arising from the ‘sleep’ incident on 9 May 2017. 

The care assistant sued for unfair dismissal at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the WRC has found that the worker was not unfairly dismissed. 

The woman denied that she fell asleep on the job. 

However, adjudication officer Andrew Heavey has concluded on the balance of probabilities, the care worker was asleep while at work on the night in question. 

Heavey said that the worker took chairs out of view of the CCTV cameras and she remained out of view for approximately two hours. 

In his ruling, Mr Heavey found that the worker failed to carry out her duties and responsibilities which resulted in additional pressure being put on the other staff on duty and could have caused severe reputational damage to her employer. 

Heavey also found that the actions of the care worker were also at variance with the provisions of the staff handbook. 

He stated that the actions of the employer were reasonable throughout the process and that the complainant was not unfairly dismissed. 

The WRC found that in a role such as a care assistant in a nursing home, failing to respond to calls for assistance and the complainant failing to carry out her duties and responsibilities in the manner described is appropriately classed as gross misconduct. 

A colleague of the female care assistant told the WRC hearing that the care assistant had failed to answer bells as they rang on numerous occasions which meant that other staff were put under pressure. 

The care assistant contended that she was unfairly dismissed as a result of a flawed disciplinary process. 

She also claimed that she was not asleep on the night in question and did not fail to carry out her duties as claimed.

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Gordon Deegan

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