THERE must be complete trust and confidence between an employer and an employee.
Dishonest acts to defraud the employer – such as tendering false academic certificates to support a job application or promotion, falsification concerning work, falsification of medical certificates to support sick leave claim, telling lies to cover up work errors or for other reasons, being untruthful on the reasons for leaving previous jobs, withholding information on past criminal conviction and disciplinary action – are workplace misconduct.
Falsifying or faking certificates to support a job application is a criminal offence.
A single dishonest or deceptive act of an employee may warrant dismissal if the conduct deals with a serious enough matter.
Making false entries in the official records or certifying receipt of goods which were never received are examples of serious acts of dishonesty that would entail dismissal.
This is so because dishonesty inevitably reflects on the fitness of the employee to continue in office. Dishonesty of a less serious nature, such as submitting a falsified medical certificate to support the sick leave application, unless it is a repeated offence, may not warrant dismissal from service but would be punishable by a warning or suspension from service for a certain period.
An employee who tendered false certificates to secure a job is taking a serious risk of immediate dismissal once the fraudulent deceit is uncovered after months or even years of employment.
Likewise, a misrepresentation on qualification and skills is sufficient to warrant dismissal even if this was uncovered after a lapse of several years, irrespective of the employee’s satisfactory work performance.
Again, tendering a forged medical certificate to support the sick leave application is a serious misconduct.
In Ibrahim Bin Abdul Hamid v Malaysia Airline Systems Bhd (MAS), the employee was dismissed from his job after the domestic inquiry panel found him guilty of tendering a forged medical certificate purportedly issued by Hospital Putrajaya.
During the trial, the employee admitted that he had bought the said medical certificate. The Industrial Court found that the company had a valid reason for terminating the employee due to his dishonest and fraudulent conduct.
Even obtaining sick leave or medical leave on false pretences of being ill and then using the leave to do other errands is workplace misconduct. This would also include making false representation to the company as to the reason for leaving the company’s premises during working hours.
The action of employees affects the implied trust and confidence as employers expect their employees to be honest and trustworthy.
In Azali Elias v Crown Jewel Hotel , the claimant, who was supposed to be on sick leave, was seen participating in a football game.
The company dismissed him for abusing the company’s sick leave policy. It must be noted that when the medical certificate was issued to the employee, it was assumed that he was sick and unfit to work and thus, would not be fit to be involved in sports activities.
In short, an employee is expected to act with complete honesty and integrity, no matter what position the employee holds in an organisation.
Once an employee exhibits dishonesty or a lack of integrity, the trust and confidence reposed in him by the employer can no longer subsist and it justifies the employer discharging the employee from employment as his act was detrimental to the best interest of the company.
PROF DR ASHGAR ALI ALI MOHAMED
Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws
International Islamic University Malaysia
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