In a now-viral TikTok video, a British woman, identified as Ellie, explained she had sent her boss a fake positive PCR test, in a bid to get out of working and go on a night out with friends instead.
However, her plan was rumbled when the boss spotted pictures of his employee in a bar, which had been posted on social media.
As The Sun reported, it was during Ellie’s night out that her boss sent her a message, asking where she was, before revealing that he had seen pictures of her night out online.
Attempting to dig her way out of the situation, Ellie lied to her boss again, saying that she had received a negative PCR test before going out, and that she would be back in work the next day as planned.
Unsurprisingly, her boss was still sceptical and asked to see the email confirming her PCR.
“I’m definitely getting the sack,” Ellie wrote, although her fate was not confirmed.
What should HR do if workers fake an isolation alert?
Similar situations have been known to crop up in the workplace before too. In late July 2021, it was reported that some workers at Nissan’s factory were caught using fake self-isolation alerts to get time off work.
The Mirror, who first reported on the news, said that sources claimed a screenshot of a worker’s genuine self-isolation alert on the app was passed among colleagues, who claimed that they also needed to quarantine.
Given the impact that this can have on staffing and workflows, it sparked follow on questions for HR about what employers should do if employees fake self-isolation alerts or PCR/lateral flow tests to get out of work.
At the time, Keely Rushmore, an Employment Partner at Keystone Law, previously told HR Grapevine that it would obviously be “frustrating” if an employee faked being ‘pinged’ or testing positive for COVID.
Despite this, she said: “However, as with any other potential disciplinary matter, it’s important that employers avoid a knee-jerk reaction and ensure they follow a fair procedure prior to making any disciplinary decision.”
Specifically, the legal expert said that employers should investigate thoroughly, collate evidence, get the facts and avoid assumptions.
Rushmore continued: “They should also ensure that they follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. The process should be documented.
“If the investigation concludes that the employee has been dishonest and a disciplinary hearing is necessary, the employee’s actions may potentially amount to gross misconduct. However, gross misconduct should not automatically result in dismissal.”
Elsewhere, Rushmore said that employers should take into account “any mitigating circumstances put forward or revealed by the disciplinary process”.
The legal expert continued: “For example, it may be unreasonable (and an unfair dismissal) to dismiss an employee with long service and an unblemished record for a one-off incident for which they have shown remorse.
“If an employer decides to dismiss, they should document why they consider a lesser sanction such as a final written warning to be inappropriate. Equally important is ensuring that staff members are treated consistently. Different treatment can lead not only to claims for unfair dismissal, but also to claims of discrimination,” Rushmore concluded.
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