Barber sacked for calling in sick on Mondays wins £3,000 payout

17 February 2023, 16:29 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 16:35

Celine Thorley
Celine Thorley, 25, couldn't come into work as her stomach was 'killing her'. Picture: Facebook

By James Hockaday

A hairdresser who fired an employee for repeatedly calling in sick on Mondays has been told to pay £3,000 in compensation.

Celine Thorley, 25, was sacked from Acute Barbers, in Cardiff University Students’ Union, after calling work to say she couldn’t get out of bed as her stomach was “killing her”. 

That was the final straw for her boss Christian Donnelly, who said he was sacking her after “four years of phoning in sick on Mondays” because she’d “had a good weekend”. 

A tribunal heard how Ms Thorley had hosted a Halloween house party on the final weekend of October 2021 before making the call. 

However, an employment tribunal Roseanne Russell found that she was genuinely ill with period pain when she called in sick and said Mr Donnelly, 39, failed to follow a “fair process”.

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Christian Donnelly owner of Acute Barbers
Christian Donnelly, owner of Acute Barbers, says he will struggle to pay the compensation. Picture: Facebook

He was ordered to pay a total of  £3,453 after the judge ruled Ms Thorley was genuinely ill, but her former boss said he stood by his decision.

Mr Donnelly said calling in sick had become a “pattern” of Ms Thorley’s, although he accepted he should have followed the correct process, including written warnings. 

He says he feels “no bitterness” towards Ms Thorley, to whom he gave plenty of unofficial verbal warnings, the tribunal heard. 

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Mr Donnelly closed his Students’ Union salon “pretty much immediately” after the sacking due to financial pressures, and said his other shop has been struggling since the Covid pandemic. 

The business owner sold his car so he could pay £700 for two hours of legal advice before the tribunal, and represented himself as he couldn’t afford a solicitor, WalesOnline reports.

Mr Donnelly said he is “living off credit cards” at the moment and is hoping to set up a long-term payment plan. He added: "Even if it was £500 I would have struggled to pay it. I was broke then and I'm even more broke now."