A National Car Test (NCT) inspector was sacked for arranging to retest his own friend's car after it failed – despite being told by his team leader "not to have anything to do with the vehicle".
He passed the car after a visual inspection and asked a colleague to print out the certificate so it could not be attributed to himself, an adjudication hearing of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) was told.
Last July, the NCT inspector asked his team leader if he could bring his friend’s car for a retest at the Deansgrange test centre in Dublin. He was told that this would be a breach of his employer’s code of integrity, and he was directed “not to have anything to do with the vehicle”.
However, the following week, the vehicle inspector drove the car to a nearby garage and asked a worker there to drive it to the Arklow test centre, where he was working, the commission heard. When the car arrived at the centre, he carried out a visual inspection of the car himself, which it had previously failed. He then asked another inspector to print out an NCT certificate for the vehicle, the commission heard.
The mechanic who had driven the car to the centre then brought it back to the garage, and the NCT inspector drove it back to his friend’s house from there, the hearing was told.
The incident came to the team leader’s attention when he noticed that the vehicle inspector had not driven his own car to work on the day of the retest. He admitted that the car he had driven was the one he had been warned not to have anything to do with.
Following a disciplinary meeting on August 3rd, he was suspended with pay and ultimately dismissed by letter on August 10th, the hearing was told.
He filed a complaint for unfair dismissal to the WRC, on the grounds that his punishment had been too severe for a “technical” breach of procedures.
While he understood that he could not drive a friend’s car to the test centre himself, however, he believed there was nothing stopping him from getting someone else to drive it.
In her decision rejecting his complaint WRC adjudication officer Niamh O’Carroll Kelly said this was “quite simply not creditable”. “Whatever about that, there was no doubt in the complainant’s mind that he should not have carried out the inspection of the vehicle. I find that he did that with full knowledge that it was in contravention of the respondent’s code of ethics,” she said.