Cleaner sacked for drinking cup of coffee on the job

A cleaner has won a case for unfair dismissal after he was sacked when his employer learnt he had a cup of coffee before his shift at a Sydney office.

The international student, who was limited to working 20 hours a week, was working at 130 Pitt Street in Sydney's CBD when the incident occurred.

The man's employer Glad Group Pty Ltd, classed the coffee drinking as theft and the cleaner took his case to the Fair Work Commission following his dismissal.

Fair Work Commission vice president Adam Hatcher said: "That cup of coffee was the direct cause of his rapid descent into summary dismissal two days later," Fairfax reports.

It was heard how the man arrived 45 minutes early for his shift on January 12 and that he shared a coffee with another cleaner as they waited for their shift to begin at 6.30pm.

The cleaners then went into the lifts with their coffee and there met the CMC Markets office and facilities manager who questioned them on where they had got the coffee from.

The woman told the pair they were 'not allowed to make coffee', to which the cleaners apologised and believed the situation to be resolved.

The cleaner told the hearing he had a 'good rapport' with the office workers and the workers at CMC Markets said he was welcome to coffee.

Fairfax reports the the facilities manager reported the incident to the cleaner's employer Glad Group Pty Ltd and asked them to be removed.

Glad sacked the cleaner for serious misconduct, despite their apologies about the situation.

The facilities manager also wrote to Investa, the company which contracted Glad's cleaning services, saying: "I find it totally inappropriate for cleaning staff to be in our tenancies for any purpose than to provide contracted cleaning services,"

Mr Hatcher reportedly awarded the man $9187.20 in damages and the right to get his old job back.

The case concluded that the dismissal was 'unjust and unreasonable'.

Mel Gatfield, secretary for United Voice NSW, told Fairfax: "His case is indicative of the exploitation and poor treatment many cleaners experience in Australia."

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