Does an Act of Heroism Deserve to be Treated as Gross Misconduct

Does an Act of Heroism Deserve to be Treated as Gross Misconduct

I read an article recently whereby an elderly lady in a wheelchair was waiting for a train on the platform at Southend Central train station. Customer Service Assistant Alan Chittock was present at this time and witnessed the passenger roll 5 feet on to the train line.
Mr Chittock reacted quickly and with the help of three members of the public jumped down onto the tracks and lifted the passenger who was strapped into her wheelchair back on to the safety of the platform.
It is unclear whether the passenger would have been in danger from an oncoming train without the assistance of Mr Chittock however a train is believed to have been due within minutes.
As a result of Mr Chittock’s actions his employer c2c have suspended him for allegedly breaching health and safety rules.
Although the line is powered by overhead cables and there is no risk of electrocution staff are banned from"accessing the track".
c2c have confirmed thy are reviewing the incident as part of an ongoing investigation as they have strict rules regarding health and safety procedures.
Whilst the actions of c2c in suspending Mr Chittock may seem unfair at first glance it is important to note that health and safety rules at work are very important and they c2c are simply responding to an alleged breach of their own procedures by following the relevant disciplinary procedures.
If an employee is believed to have been guilty of misconduct then they can be suspended. This is not considered to be a disciplinary sanction and the employee should still be receiving full pay during the period of suspension.
The incident should then be investigated and the employee invited to attend an investigatory meeting. After this investigation if it is not considered that there is any case to answer the employee should be allowed to return to work. If there is a case to answer a disciplinary hearing should take place.
Based on the circumstances that we are aware of in the case of Mr Chittock I would not be surprised if he is allowed to return to work after a short investigation. His employer would find it difficult to demonstrate that this was an act of gross misconduct and unless Mr Chittock has a history of disciplinary action then I cannot see this resulting in his dismissal.
If you have been subjected to any disciplinary action by your employer or you have been dismissed for misconduct or any other reason please contact the dedicated employment team at Michael Lewin Solicitors and will will be happy to discuss your situation with you.
Written by Anthony Fox

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