Lufthansa Technik Malta has been ordered to compensate an employee who was sacked for going on a family holiday after his leave entitlement had expired due to an imposed four-day week. The Industrial Tribunal found that, an aircraft mechanic, had been unfairly dismissed by the company.
The Chairman of the Industrial Tribunal heard how the worker was on holiday when he received an e-mail informing him his job had been terminated due to “unauthorised absence”. The worker filed a leave application, which was approved, through a computerised system in May 2011 for his family holiday between August 29 and September 5.
However, in June, the company faced difficulties due to lack of work so it rearranged workers’ shifts and reduced the working week to four days. The extra day off was considered as forced leave. He was also forced to take his vacation leave in July instead of August and September. In mid-August, he accessed the leave system and realised that his approved leave had been deleted.
He was informed that the forced leave had consumed his entire leave entitlement for the year so he did not have enough to go on holiday. He spoke to the human resources section who told him to seek an arrangement with the head of production. He went to and fro between departments until the day before his holiday, when his manager assured him the matter was in hand.
The worker went on holiday but three days later he received an e-mail informing him that since he had not turned up for work for three consecutive days, it was deemed he had abandoned his job.
The Industrial Tribunal noted that while it understood workplace exigencies in circumstances of lack of work, it believed such a situation should have been resolved through discussions with the employee to find an amicable solution, especially when leave had already been approved. It noted that the worker had tried to find a solution before going on holiday and had been given the impression a solution would be found.
In this light the Industrial Tribunal found that the worker had been unfairly dismissed and instead of ordering his reinstatement, awarded him €4,500 in compensation.