career

Avril called in sick after 'overindulging' on alcohol. When she returned to work, she was sacked.

At 4:56pm on April 25 – Anzac Day – this year, Avril Chapman phoned her employer, the Tassal factory in Tasmania, to let them know she would not be in the next day for work.

“Hi Michelle, it’s Avril, one of your most loved pains in the arse,” she said in the voicemail, The Fair Work Commission said.

“Um it’s Anzac Day, my birthday, and I admit I have overindulged so I’m taking into account one of the golden rules, be fit for work, and I’m not going to be fit for work so I won’t be there.

“But um love ya, catch ya on the flip side.”

When Avril returned to work on April 27, she was given a letter from her boss alleging misconduct and telling her she was being stood down with no pay.

woman sick in bed on phone
Avril called in sick 13 hours before her shift was due to start. Image via Getty.

Her employer felt that Avril was exploiting a 'golden safety rule' to "excuse or justify her behaviour".

"You had deliberately made a decision to consume alcohol to the extent that you would not be fit for work on 26 April 2017," the letter read.

"You were required to attend and be in a fit state to carry out your duties safely."

Avril, who scaled, sliced, weighed and packed fish at the Tasmanian factory, argued she did not make the decision "deliberately" and believed she was doing the "right and responsible thing" by calling in sick.

LISTEN: Is it ever okay to text your boss when you are sick? Mia, Holly and Jessie discuss on Mamamia Out Loud.

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"It was by BIRTHDAY, and friends dropped by unannounced. I had my official birthday party on the Monday night and wasn't expecting visitors on Tuesday, however, visitors I got," she wrote in an email responding to her employer's claims of misconduct.

"As the afternoon went on I realised it was going to be a long night and I believe I acted responsibly and respectfully by contacting management to let them know I wouldn't be fit for work.

"Would it have been wiser for [me] to call at 6 am on the 26th and plead illness? I think if I had done that then I wouldn't be writing this letter now, but it wouldn't have been the honest thing to do in my opinion."

After she was sacked, Avril took her case to the Fair Work Commission.

woman drinking
Avril told her employers she had "overindulged" on Anzac Day, which was also her birthday. Image via iStock.

While Commission deputy president David Barclay found the company had a valid reason for terminating her employment, he ruled that she had been treated "harshly".

"Here the applicant 'took a sicky' in circumstances where she had voluntarily embarked upon a course of conduct that resulted in incapacity for work," he said in his ruling.

But, the commission decided to rule in favour of Avril as the incident was the first time she had conducted herself in such a manner in the five years she had worked for the company, and she was awarded $8,229 in compensation.

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