Unfair dismissal cases lost after smoking too close to the workplace and missing claim deadline by 88 seconds

The fine margins of employment law have been demonstrated by two workers who lost unfair dismissal cases – one by an inch and the other by 88 seconds.

Michelin employee John Smith was sacked for breaking company rules by smoking just a couple of centimetres inside an open fire door in its Dundee factory.

An employment tribunal struck out his unfair dismissal claim, but noted that he would have been within the rules if he had walked “just an inch or so” further.

Michelin abolished its smoking rooms when Scotland introduced the smoking ban in March 2006. Smith had attended a presentation about the new regulations, and been warned that a breach could lead to dismissal.

Meanwhile, National Grid worker John Beasley was denied the chance to prove unfair dismissal when he e-mailed his claim one minute and 28 seconds past the deadline.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the original decision that his claim should be struck out as it was “reasonably practicable” that he could have submitted it in time.

Beasley mistyped the e-mail address his claim form had to be sent to when sending it at 11.44pm on the final day of a three-month period of opportunity – 6 May 2006. It was returned to him and he sent a test message to the correct address at 11.57pm, before sending the actual form at 12:01am on 7 May.

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