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Disciplinary danger for Tunnock’s teacake twirler

BY Anita Mulholland
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Although the fun and spectacle of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games is now behind us, one Glaswegian worker may be left with distinctly unpleasant memories of the Games.

The lady in question is Amy McIntosh, a nursery worker who took part in the opening ceremony as one of the controversial giant dancing Tunnock’s teacakes. 

I’m sure any employer would be proud to have one of their own take part in the stunning spectacle at Celtic Park; however, Amy was signed off work at the time and her employers were less than impressed to spot their employee wielding oversize confectionary when she was supposed to be overcome with illness. Ms McIntosh had been signed off for a month due to tonsillitis, a timeframe which matched the compulsory pre-show rehearsal period. A coincidence, I’m sure. No confirmation has been received from the nursery as to whether Ms McIntosh lost her job over teacake-gate, but one can expect that eyebrows were raised at the nursery to say the least.  

The case serves to highlight a common dilemma for employers who learn that sick staff have been engaging in social activities or even going on holiday. It is important for employers not to jump to conclusions and to discuss the situation with the employee with an open mind; often employees signed off with stress may have been advised by their doctor to take a holiday to ease symptoms, for example. However, in extreme cases disciplinary action can certainly be taken provided the employer seeks to act in a fair manner. A lesson which the dancing teacake may have learned to her detriment over the last month!

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