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Can you fairly dismiss for excessive internet browsing?

The Claimant had been the subject of an investigation into her daughter and two young grandchildren attending the workplace during her lunch break. She alleged that she had been working while they were there which resulted in a search of her internet usage.

This revealed that not only had she not been working but that for one and half hours earlier the same day, she had been browsing for personal purposes. A more detailed search for the whole month revealed hundreds of entries on shopping sites, filling 117 pages of evidence.

She was subsequently dismissed and her claim for unfair dismissal failed. The tribunal held that the employer’s investigation and dismissal procedure was “textbook” and the evidence gathered showed they had a reasonable belief in her misconduct.

A lesson to employers that prevention is better than the cure – get the rights policies in place and follow the correct procedures and they can successfully defend a tribunal claim.

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