Sacking by Lismore City Council 'unjust'

AN employee who worked for Lismore City Council for 28 years was sacked in circumstances described by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission as 'harsh, unjust and unreasonable'.

John Beacroft was the rating services manager with the council and was on sick leave when his employment was terminated on January 8, 2008.

Mr Beacroft was diagnosed with 'stress-related anxiety and depression' by his own doctor, and by a psychologist. He began sick leave in June, 2007, and provided medical certificates.

In October the council sent Mr Beacroft a letter requiring him to see a psychiatrist for another opinion on his condition, which he did.

In November Mr Beacroft produced medical certificates that said 'a return to work would result in a deterioration in (his) psychological state' and he was permanently unfit for work.

A month later the council asked Mr Beacroft to attend a 'worksite assessment'. He declined on advice from his union that he was not required to attend because he was on sick leave, not workers' compensation.

Mr Beacroft was sacked for 'gross misconduct' for not attending the assessment. In his final submission to the Industrial Relations Commission, his lawyer said the termination was 'unfair, unreasonable and unjust'.

“It was unfair because the (council) never afforded (Mr Beacroft) procedural fairness. The applicant was suffering from a mental illness, had supportive medical evidence, had 28 years of service, and should have been treated with fairness and respect. He was not.”

The Commission ordered the council to reinstate Mr Beacroft and pay him his full entitlements.

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