Issue 672/October 2019
Your weekly bulletin of wit and wonder
Ever been more embarrassed than Craig Revel Horwood?
A broken ankle leads a biscuit firm to tribunal
IT'S GOT TO BE-E-E-E-E-E-E
Perfect. Come to our Practice Makes Perfect Masterclass!
How the nation cringed on Saturday night. Fresh from his salsa with celebrity partner Emma Barton, Anton Du Beke was bemused to hear Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood comment on his Austin Powers themed performance.
‘I was slightly distracted by the wig and the fake teeth,’ said Craig.
Anton was wearing a wig – but the teeth were all his own. Cue a judging panel melt down as Craig, looking mortified at his gaffe, could only apologise.
The Teethgate media storm arrived in a matter of minutes.
But who among us hasn’t done this? Who can say they’ve never asked a lady when the baby is due, only to be met with a stony face and the news that she’s not pregnant?
Or told someone there was something on their face… only to discover it was a birth mark.
Here at WG Towers we have compiled a list of such horrors… and are keeping the confessors anonymous for obvious reasons.
Anon 1: “I was talking to a friend and noticed a longish hair stuck to her chest. I tried to pull it off for her… only to find it was attached. We’re still friends, though. I think…”
Anon 2: “A colleague had kindly prepared a press release, but I thought it was written by a third party and I said to their face ‘Oh, that’s a bit pants.’ They looked a bit uncomfortable and then said: ’Well, I wrote it... thanks for that!’”
Anon 3: “I was at a party when I noticed a young man dancing in a hilarious way. I joked to someone I’d been talking to that he looked like he was having a fit. She stared at me and then said: ‘That’s my son. He’s disabled.’ I was so mortified I thought my head was going to melt.”
Anon 4: “I was waiting for my job interview, chatting to the receptionist, when I commented on a bright yellow Ferrari parked outside. I said: ‘Look – banana meets mid life crisis!’ She laughed and then bit her lip and stared hard anywhere but at the boss who’d just come outside to greet me. Yes. He was the Ferrari owner. His face was a picture. So was mine; I’m guessing The Scream. Didn’t get the job…”
Anon 5: “ Waiting in a queue once, my mum and I were making jokes about a security guard having one arm. We originally thought the way he was standing was just obscuring his arm, but when we reached the front of the queue, we realised he did actually have only one arm…”
We feel sure you can beat these. Please share your mortifying verbal gaffes over on the Facebook page. You can always say it was "a friend"...
The crunch point of using proper evidence is illustrated by the case of Hope v United Biscuits.
Mr Hope, employed by United Biscuits, fractured his ankle after he stepped off a pallet at work. In the initial accident report, he stated that he’d tried to step over the pallet, but he later changed his statement.
Mr Garner, a team manager, reviewed the CCTV footage and statements about the incident and arranged a phone interview with Mr Hope, who was absent from work as a result of the incident. Mr Hope was not informed at the time that his employer had seen the CCTV footage. Mr Hope stated in the telephone call that he could not remember how the accident happened and confirmed that he was on strong painkillers at the time of the call. The only details he could recall were that as he was getting pallets he felt a “twinge” in his ankle but gave it no thought. He also noted that after turning down the radio and coming off the pallet, he knew there was something wrong.
During a second phone call on 26 April, Mr Hope was informed that employee statements taken at the time suggested he had put a pallet down and tripped over it. Mr Hope said he did not think that was the correct.
In another meeting on 9 May, Mr Garner said it was the force of Mr Hope falling down from the pallet after adjusting the radio that had caused the injury. Mr Hope said this was not in his statement because he never thought there was any force.
By a letter dated 10 May, Mr Garner informed Mr Hope that he was suspended from work because he “knowingly provided the business with a false statement” during the investigation. A disciplinary meeting took place on 17 May and a final disciplinary hearing on 29 May, in which he was informed of his dismissal, with immediate effect, for gross misconduct. Mr Hope appealed his dismissal but was unsuccessful.
Mr Hope bought claims in the Employment Tribunal (ET) for unfair and wrongful dismissal.
The ET ruled that no reasonable employer would have believed Mr Hope’s initial statement, which was used at the disciplinary hearings, was intentionally untrue, because it was taken and signed before he went to hospital, while he was in pain.
The tribunal held that little consideration was given to the more detailed statement he made at the earliest opportunity after the night of the incident.
Mr Hope’s claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal were upheld because United Biscuits had focused on Mr Hope’s initial statement without putting much weight on what he said later.
This case illustrates that employers should consider all of the evidence available to them when assessing an allegation of gross misconduct and ensure the content they use is accurate and up to date.
A LITTLE PERFECTION
It’s Masterclass time again!
On October 23 we’re running our Practice Makes Perfect session - and not for the first time. Like the Mouse Trap in London’s West End, this one just runs and runs (although, granted, not for 66 years), because brushing up your skills on handling disciplinary or grievance hearings is ALWAYS time well spent.
Our Masterclasses have limited spaces and can fill up quickly, so click HERE for more info now!