Manchester United may have scored a legal own goal by dropping David Beckham
after he missed training to deal with a domestic emergency.
Since the Parental Leave law came into effect last December, staff have the
right to take “reasonable” time off for domestic emergencies.
Controversy has surrounded Beckham since he was dropped from the Leeds United
match this month for failing to attend training the Friday before.
Reports of the incident have conflicted, but Beckham said both his baby son
Brooklyn and wife Victoria were ill with gastro-enteritis. He apparently
complied with his duty to inform his employer, by phoning manager Sir Alex
This constituted reasonable notice under the law, said Peter Meldrum,
employment solicitor at Irwin Mitchell. "He is certainly an employee under
the definition of the Act and is entitled to take reasonable time off during
normal working hours to provide assistance when a dependant falls ill," he
Beckham could argue in a tribunal that the club refused to accept his right
by imposing the harsh sanction of being dropped.
The only circumstance in which the club would have a defence would be if
Beckham had been lying. But even here it should at least have tried to find
out. Assuming that an employee is lying is not sufficient defence, Meldrum
Although the club’s actions appear to be in breach, any action could only
come by Beckham deciding to take the case to an employment tribunal.
Manchester United declined to comment.