Tribunal rules in favour of energy company over sacking of sleeping worker

An employment tribunal has ruled in favour of an energy company dismissing an offshore worker after he slept during a shift.

Robert Surtees, a mechanical technician from Durham, was fired by Apache North Sea after taking a two-hour rest from his night-shift duties last October.

Surtees, who had worked for the company for 27 years, claimed he was feeling unwell and had informed his colleagues and control-room staff that he was going to rest, according to the Scottish Press & Journal newspaper.

He shared a cabin with another worker while he slept.

Apache North Sea said Surtees had failed to inform his supervisor and that he had compromised production by being unavailable to deal with any technical emergencies.

Surtees launched a claim for unfair dismissal after being sacked for gross misconduct.

The Aberdeen Employment Tribunal dismissed his claim, finding that the company’s actions, although they “might be considered harsh”, fell within the range of “reasonable responses”.

The company also said Surtees had breached its health and safety regulations by sharing a cabin with another worker.

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