Security guard sacked for falling asleep on duty blamed employer for causing 'jetlag'  

Security guard sacked for falling asleep on duty blamed employer for causing 'jetlag'  

Complainant was sole guard at a housing estate in Co Offaly at the time of the incident in December 2019, and was responsible for client assets worth 'several million euro', Workplace Relations Commission heard. File picture: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A security officer who was found asleep on the job while guarding "millions of euro worth of client assets" has failed in an action for unfair dismissal.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard Jaroslaw Lukasiewicz had brought his own chair to work, and was discovered sleeping on it by one of his managers after they had tried to call him five times without success.

He admitted being asleep on duty, away from his post, without his uniform and ID badge. However, he blamed the company for creating conditions that caused “jetlag” and made falling asleep “inevitable”.

Mr Lukasiewicz claimed he had been unfairly dismissed and filed a complaint with the WRC against his employer, K-tech Security Unlimited Company, for whom he had worked for over two years at the time of the incident.

Responsible for client assets

He was the sole guard at a housing estate in Co Offaly at the time of the incident in December 2019, and was responsible for client assets worth “several million euro”.

The WRC heard one of superiors had travelled to the site out of concern for Mr Lukasiewicz’s health and safety after failing to reach him by phone from the control room.

When he arrived at the location, the manager found the complainant had brought his own chair to work, and was asleep on it, away from his post, and without his uniform or Private Security Authority (PSA) ID badge.

Mr Lukasiewicz was sent home and invited to an investigation meeting the following day, when he admitted that he had been asleep on the job. He apologised at a subsequent disciplinary hearing, but a decision was taken to terminate his employment.

The complainant appealed the decision, however, blaming the fact he had been asleep on the company’s failure to pay him a bonus. The decision to dismiss him was upheld.

12-hour shifts

In his submission to the WRC, Mr Lukasiewicz said his employer had failed to take into account the “context” surrounding the incident. He had worked 12-hour shifts irregularly, and this had impacted his sleep rhythm and left him “jetlagged”.

He said the company had created conditions that caused this “jetlag” and made him “predisposed” to falling asleep at work. The former employee added that sleeping on the job was “inevitable” due to the working system created by the firm.

In his decision to dismiss Mr Lukasiewicz’s complaint of unfair dismissal, adjudication officer Pat Brady noted that the former security guard had never raised any objection or sought any variation to his shifts prior to the incident.

He said it was “easy to see” how a security company might regard termination as lying within the range of reasonable responses to a guard being asleep on duty, given the possible commercial implications.

Mr Brady said he could find no basis for impugning the disciplinary process and noted the complainant’s submissions had concentrated on the area of mitigation. He dismissed the complaint and said the termination of employment had been fair.

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