FAI referee spotted officiating during sick leave is sacked

Workplace Relations Commission rejects man’s claim for unfair dismissal

A Football Association of Ireland referee who was sacked after his employer discovered he officiated at three soccer matches while on sick leave has lost his claim for unfair dismissal.

The Dublin-based general operative received €4,000 in sick pay from his employer over six weeks last year before he was dismissed for gross misconduct.The Workplace Relations Commission has now dismissed the employee's objection to his sacking.

The man, who had worked for the multinational, on the outskirts of the Dublin, since 1992, supplied a series of medical certificates in January and February 2017 that said he was suffering from a serious chest infection and had symptoms of flu. He also updated the company about his doctor’s advice and about proposed hospital appointments.

The company’s managing director then found out that the employee had been making himself available to the FAI as a linesman and referee for Premier Division matches.


The commission ruled that the worker had misled his employer and wrongly extracted sick pay he was not entitled to. Its adjudication officer Penelope McGrath said that she accepted the company’s finding and that it was wrong of him “to dupe his employer in the way that he did”.

At a disciplinary meeting the man said he had been off work in order to deal with sensitive personal issues relating to his wife and daughter. He cited a mistrust of his employer for not explaining this while he was on sick leave.

Ms McGrath found that the employee “provided no substantial reason” for this mistrust and noted that the company offered unpaid compassionate leave in such instances.

“I do believe that the complainant’s family circumstances were very difficult and that he did the right thing in taking an amount of time out to be with them in their time of need. I do not, however, accept that it was a good idea to fabricate a reason to be away from the workplace.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times