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Clampers used unauthorised ‘spotter workaround’ for higher bonuses

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Five clampers at a clamping company engaged in an unauthorised “workaround” that resulted in them clamping more cars that could earn them higher work bonuses.

That is one of the findings of Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer, Kevin Baneham, who found that the decision by a clamping company to dismiss one worker who engaged in the “workaround” practice was not unfair.

The man told the WRC that he clamped 2,500 vehicles between January and October 2018, and was subject to only 12 successful appeals. The man was sacked on November 13th, 2018 and got a job with another clamping company the following day.

In his findings, Mr Baneham stated that the workers’ bonus payments depended on how many vehicles they clamped and he stated: “Staff have the obvious incentive to bend the rules in order to stave off criticism of their performance or to earn additional remuneration.”

Mr Baneham stated the clamping company contended that the worker used the workaround to earn more bonus, but Mr Baneham stated that the company also benefitted financially from an operator who clamped a great many vehicles — although subject to appeal.

Mr Baneham stated that the ‘workaround’ involved a clamper noting the time a vehicle was parked up and relaying this information to a colleague who would clamp the car at the end of the grace period.

Mr Baneham stated that the staff member who administered the clamp would enter the spotting time relayed to them by the colleague and then enter the time the staff member administered the clamp. Mr Baneham stated: “This obviously allowed for more vehicles to be clamped as the staff member who clamped the vehicle did not have to also spot the vehicle beforehand.”

In the case where the dismissed worker received a final written warning for the “workaround” practice, a supermarket home delivery vehicle was noted to have parked in a loading bay at 5.58pm on October 17th, 2018 by a colleague. The parking of the vehicle had 20 minutes grace time and it was clamped by the sacked worker at 18.24pm -– 26 minutes after it was spotted parked up.

Mr Baneham said that the driver of the supermarket vehicle was able to rely on the vehicle’s CCTV to challenge that it had been spotted at the said time.

Using the GPS on the clamping vehicle, the clamping company established that the dismissed worker could not have spotted the commercial vehicle as he was driving at this time, although not very far from where the commercial vehicle was parked.

The clamping firm sacked the man after a second incident where he took a work van home after an explicit warning not to do so.

Mr Baneham said it is “striking how prevalent this workaround was”. He stated: “From the evidence, I count five members of staff who engaged in this practice although the company’s enforcement officer gave strong evidence that he did not engage in this practice.”

“It is imperative for public confidence in the administration of a clamping regime,” he said.

He stated that neither the regulations, nor the employer’s policy “permit one staff member to spot and another to clamp”.

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