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Under the influence


THE CONSTRUCTION industry got even more tangled up in red tape this year as contractors had to put up with ludicrous pay-offs for cocaine-taking and skiving workers. Firms have also had to deal with new age l egislation which makes sending cheeky birthday cards to more 'mature' workers a discrimination hot potato.

In the summer, a tribunal needed two rulings to sort out the case of a railway worker sacked after he admitted taking cocaine.

The initial tribunal decision found that Scotweld had breached its own disciplinary procedures by firing him on the spot after he confessed to taking the drug, but refused to take a random drugs and alcohol test.

Whatever next? Bonuses for turning up sober on site?

Back in January, Kent contractor S Lucas was left fuming after an employment tribunal awarded £15,000 to a painter sacked for working for another firm while off sick.

Lindsay Halls complained of depression and was signed off work by his doctor while he received statutory sick pay.

But when his employers dismissed him after using a private investigator's video footage of Lindsay working while he was off sick, Mr Halls lodged a claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal in Ashford, Kent, and won £15,000. Lawyers will expect their stockings to be heartily filled with age discrimination lawsuits this Christmas.

Age legislation came into force on October 1 and forced employers to avoid using words like 'mature' or 'energetic' in job advertisements, and to base job selection on ability rather than years on the clock.