Phone addiction costs guard his job

A security guard who missed a break-in on CCTV because he was on his smartphone at the time was sacked after failing to deal with his self-confessed addiction to his mobile device.

He was found to be on his phone instead of monitoring security cameras when a break-in occurred at a premises where he was stationed in December 2015. He could have lost his job at this time, but was given a second chance. However, an operations manager spotted the security guard on his phone at work again three times in the space of a week in June 2016, contrary to a company policy that prohibited the use of personal mobile phones during work hours.

He was fired on grounds of gross misconduct in July 2016 but referred a complaint of unfair dismissal in respect of this decision to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The ex-employee, who worked for the family-owned security business for nine years prior to his dismissal, told an adjudication hearing of the WRC that the facts of the case were not in dispute but he felt the penalty of dismissal was disproportionate and he wanted his job back. He said his mobile phone was like "an extension of his arm" and over a period of time he had become "addicted to using it, to play games, to text friends, and for using social media sites".

Subsequently, he was dealing with a relationship break-up and the possible loss of access to his daughter in June 2016, and felt he was left with no choice but to use his phone during work. He said he knew the possible consequences of breaching company policy again, after receiving a final warning over the CCTV incident in December 2015, but took a risk to sort out his personal life and work life together. In his decision on the unfair dismissal complaint, adjudication officer James Kelly found the complainant's actions had clearly constituted a breach of his employer's personal mobile phone policy.

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