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Falling asleep on the job can lead to major problems. If you nod off for a few minutes during a training session then, chances are, no-one is going to notice. If your job involves driving or operating dangerous machinery, then it is a much more serious issue. The Telegraph recently reported that a criminal barrister had been cleared of professional misconduct after falling asleep during a remote hearing. She snoozed all the way through her own client’s cross-examination. The judge was alerted when she failed to respond when he asked if she had any further questions. She had been asleep for over two hours. Much was made in this case of the fact that the barrister fell asleep after having had a jacket potato for lunch. In the event, the Bar Standards Council accepted her explanation that the lapse in concentration had been due to medical issues and she was cleared of misconduct. 

Commentators have argued that this case should never have reached a professional misconduct hearing given the barrister’s unblemished record and clear medical factors at play. If you encounter issues with employees falling asleep on the job, make sure you consider the following:

  • Are there any mitigating circumstances? Ill health, personal problems or wider workplace issues?
  • Was health and safety endangered as a result of the employee’s actions?
  • If employees are working in a hazardous environment, do you have a clear procedure for employees to follow if they become fatigued at work? Employees in such roles who come to you and own-up to feeling tired should be supported and not reprimanded.

Find out how we can help.  Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department.  Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].