Sacking for 533 days off in 3 years is upheld

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A COUNCIL worker who was sacked after being off work sick for a total of 533 days in three years lost her claim for unfair dismissal yesterday.

Valerie Bevan, 47, was first warned by Tower Hamlets council in east London after taking 59 days off sick with stomach trouble and migraine between 1989 and 1990. She was sacked when she took 19 months off, with an injured ankle, between July 1990 and March 1992.

She lost her claim for unfair dismissal after an industrial tribunal at Woburn Place, London, was told how the council commissioned 13 medical reports on her condition and employed agency staff to keep her job as a nursery worker open.

The tribunal was also told that places for abused and deprived children at the nursery where Mrs Bevan worked were reduced from twelve to eight because of her absence.

Jennifer Eady, for the council, said: 'It was difficult to explain that the quality of care had deteriorated because an employee had been off for 19 months and the council was keeping her job open.'

Delivering the panel's ruling, David Rose, the tribunal chairman, said: 'Although we have sympathy for her and the length of time it has taken to sort out her problems, we unanimously find that Tower Hamlets council had the right to dismiss Mrs Bevan.'