Springhouse Solicitors

Use of surveillance film unfair dismissal

Video evidence showed an employee signed off sick with a back injury clearing ice from his car, driving, carrying shopping and walking his dog. Using it to dismiss him proved a £50,000 mistake.

Caterpillar Logistics Services had relied on the footage, which had been filmed by an insurance company, in dismissing Mr Pacey for gross misconduct. They said that he had falsely claimed company sick pay while he was fit for work.

Mr Pacey said that he had been told by his doctor to take light exercise as much as possible, and that the footage did not show him moving any weights, so it did not prove he had been lying.

The Employment Tribunal agreed with Mr Pacey. They were concerned, amongst other things, that Caterpillar had relied on an inexpert consideration of the film and had not taken proper account of the medical evidence they did have.

Caterpillar had also fallen into the trap of giving Mr Pacey a pre-prepared letter of suspension, indicating that they had not investigated the situation with an open mind.

As Mr Pacey’s award was close to £50,000 (largely due to his loss of a final salary pension), employers should beware the beguiling nature of investigative video footage.