How much do your employees love shopping?

Do you allow staff to use your computer systems for personal purposes like shopping or Facebook? Perhaps you allow this during lunch breaks, but recently a national law firm found that one of their employees had what they described as an, “unacceptable” level of personal internet use and this was her undoing. They dismissed her and the Liverpool Employment Tribunal agreed with them that their decision was reasonable.

Ms Hall, a long-serving employee at a national law firm had been accused of being abusive towards another colleague. A witness corroborated the tale of Ms Hall having lost her temper and being abusive towards a relatively new member of staff and this, along with another incident where there were some concerns about her bringing other members of her family (including her young grandchildren to work and leaving them unsupervised) led to an investigation.

Ms Hall had indicated that she had been working on her computer at the time of one specific incident and it was only when that her mitigation claim was investigated that her employer discovered that she had been spending hours doing personal shopping when she should have been working.

The evidence produced at the tribunal showed, “consistently high” personal usage on most working days during October 2018. There were hundreds of entries produced showing that she had been spending time shopping on a wide variety of websites including Debenhams, Shoeaholics, and some airlines. This was contrary to her statement to the internal disciplinary hearing and so the firm felt that she had been dishonest about the matter and dismissed her for gross misconduct. The Judge agreed that this was a reasonable decision for the firm to make and that given they had followed proper procedures rejected Ms Hall’s claim of unfair dismissal.

If you have employees that seem to spend a lot of time on non-work activities and need advice or guidance on how to tackle it, get in touch.
Posted on 21 Jan 2020
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