We love helping golf clubs because they genuinely seem to attract more than their fair share of tricky employees.
Including those that go off sick with stress when invited for a disciplinary.
However, sometimes, rather than helping the golf club, we’re duty bound to protect the employee from the tricky committee.
Our client, let’s call them the “Good Intentions” Golf Club, employed a new greenkeeper, in his early forties.
In his fifth month of employment he suffered a massive and genuine heart attack.
The sick pay policy at the Club was only SSP for those in the probationary period, which was the first 6 months.
The committee voted to give him 20 days full pay for sickness, as he had been a good worker up until then, and they wanted to show their support.
Those 20 days then took him over the 6 months, and that meant he was entitled to another 20 days full sick pay before going on to SSP.
He was very grateful for the extra money.
He was getting better and had sent in what he hoped would be his last sick note, and aimed to be back at work at the end of the month.
Then we got a totally unexpected phone call from the Club.
“The committee are worried about the amount that has been spent on sick pay. As most of it has been spent on him, they want to dismiss him before he uses more sick pay.”
In other words, they’d given him a “gimme” with one hand, but wanted to disqualify him for taking it with the other!
He hadn’t asked for the extra payment, they had volunteered it, and were now looking to punish him for it.
Once we realised that they were serious, we were not amused.
You see, a heart attack is an automatic disability.
And given that the reason for wanting to dismiss him was not his performance at work but the fact that his heart might make him sick again, it would be an automatic loss at tribunal.
And – just so we’re all clear – tribunal awards for discrimination, which is what this was, are unlimited.
Which means that this particular club would genuinely have been risking HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of pounds, all for the sake of 20 days full pay that they’d already paid out.
Not only did we have to protect the greenkeeper in this instance, we also had to protect the club; not from any external force, but from themselves!