The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Worker sacked while going through depression wins €14,000 in compensation

Wednesday, 19 January 2022, 16:15 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Industrial Tribunal has ordered a company to pay €14,000 to a worker who was sacked from his job while he was going through a severe depression.

The tribunal heard how the worker’s depression subsequently got worse after his sacking, to the point that he had attempted to commit suicide.

The man, whose name cannot be published due to court order, took Actavis Limited, where he used to work as a technical assistant, to court over his dismissal.

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He explained to the tribunal that he was passing through a difficult period because of a number of deaths within his family, among them that of a cousin who had been fighting cancer for nine years, and because his sister had also been diagnosed with cancer and gone through a difficult time.

The worker said that his superior had told him that he could take sick leave when he is passing through a difficult time, but that he had then heard nothing from them and received a letter that he had been sacked.

After this, he said, his depression became more severe and he attempted to commit suicide.

“There were times when I did not report sick, but this was not out of carelessness or disrespect towards the management or my colleagues. My mind simply wasn’t working right,” the man admitted.

The company on their part said that the man had been given permission not to report to work for two months, but had subsequently not gone back to work.  The company also said that it had tried to contact the man through every means possible but that he had not answered.

The Industrial Tribunal presided over by chairperson John Bencini said that when considering all the evidence, it appeared that despite the man’s health difficulties, one can conclude that he was a loyal worker and had shown no serious shortcomings save for an unjustified absence from work for seven days.

The Tribunal continued that it cannot be said that the man abandoned his place of work, and remarked that it was not satisfied by the manner in which the company tried to use an unjustified absenteeism clause in order to end the man’s employment.

The company was subsequently ordered to pay €14,000 to the worker in compensation.

Lawyer Francesca Zarb represented the worker, while lawyer Lara Pace represented Actavis Ltd.

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