Fife councillor wins tribunal case for 'public duties' days off

A FIFE councillor who complained he wasn't allowed sufficient time off work from his employer, Sky Subscribers Services Ltd, to carry out his public duties as an elected member, has won his case at an employment tribunal.

Jim Tolson, the opposition spokesman for adult services on the Labour-controlled Fife Council, who has previously stood as a UK and Scottish Parliament election candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, complained he required more time off than he was permitted by his employer.

His public role, he said, involved attending committee meetings, site visits and advising community councils.

At the tribunal, it was argued on his behalf that it would be reasonable for him to have 24 days a year off, or 48 half days.

Sky argued he was already given four full days off, and any further absences meant they had to cover the period with another employee working overtime. A request for 48 half days' time off was excessive and unreasonable, it argued.

But the tribunal found that the effect of his absence on the running of the business could not be described as significant or substantial. It involved two call centres at Dunfermline and Livingston with 330 employees between them.

The Edinburgh tribunal ruled that Sky had failed to permit Mr Tolson, of Dunfermline, to take such time off for public duties as was reasonable in his particular circumstances.

The tribunal said it was difficult to predict the number of days per annum he needed, but it would be no fewer than 12 days when other meetings were taken into account.

Mr Tolson brought his action under Section 51 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 regarding time off for public duties.