Worker dismissed for leaving work to go to child’s daycare centre

Employer cites poor quality of work, failure to record work hours

Worker dismissed for leaving work to go to child’s daycare centre

Balancing the responsibilities of being a parent and an employee is very difficult and challenging.

In the workplace, employees are expected to demonstrate dependability and commitment while also being productive and contributing to their team’s success.

Striking a balance between the two requires a conscious effort. Employees may need to adjust their working hours to accommodate childcare while also ensuring that their job performance is not negatively impacted.

In a recent case from the Alberta Labour Relations Board, a father argued he had to juggle between his responsibilities as a parent with showing up to work on time. On the other hand, the employer said that his “consistent” tardiness and other misconduct warranted his dismissal.

Background of the case

The employer operated three tire and auto centres in and around Red Deer City. The worker was an automotive technician from May 2021 until his termination in November of the same year.

He was dismissed for various grounds, but the employer highlighted the following:

“The worker was late multiple times a week consistently. His start time was 8:00 a.m., but he was frequently late for work by approximately 15 minutes on most days. The worker explained that his childcare responsibilities included dropping his child off at daycare at 8:00 a.m., saying that the centre did not open until 8:00 a.m.”

According to records, the employer provided no written warnings advising him to adjust his arrival time or he would be subject to discipline.

“The worker left the premises in the middle of working on a job without permission. The worker said that while at work, he received a call from the daycare operator indicating his child needed a change of clothes. He said he advised his supervisor that he was leaving, the reason why, and that he would be back.”

The employer said that he was gone for approximately one hour, and his absence delayed work on a customer’s vehicle, and the latter became upset because of it.

Additionally, the employer said the worker had jobs returned with safety issues due to poor quality of work and refused to perform his duties, including keeping a record of hours worked and work orders.

The employer also said, “It operates a very lenient shop and tries to work with the employees” and it had “no written records for any of the worker’s discipline.”

The decision

Alberta’s Labour Relations Appeal Body said that the employer’s failure to warn the employee was a crucial oversight.

“The law seems to be clear that in such cases, an employer must warn, must specify the misconduct which is considered unacceptable, and must indicate to the employee in some clear way that the employee’s job is in jeopardy if the conduct is repeated,” the decision said.

It said that the employer’s grounds had merit, but the employer “did not issue any written disciplinary warnings to the worker.”

“As such, the employer has not provided sufficient evidence to warrant termination of the worker for just cause on the basis of a cumulative disciplinary record,” the decision said.

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