Volunteer firefighter fired from regular job for leaving too often

Employer accused worker of leaving without permission but worker was operating under past practices
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 12/10/2014

A British Columbia company wrongfully dismissed an employee who was fired for too many absences related to his position as a volunteer firefighter, an arbitrator has ruled.

Jim Buckley was an employee for Mainroad South Island Contracting on Saltspring Island, B.C. When he was hired in 1988, Buckley informed his foreman he was a member of the Saltspring Island volunteer fire department. The foreman said that was a good thing for the community and would give Mainroad good public relations — the company also provided resources to the fire department — and Buckley agreed that he wouldn’t leave work for a fire call if it would cost Mainroad money and delay work that was causing disruptions. Though Buckley said he would return to work from calls as soon as he could, there was no formal discussion of how long he should be away or how to fill out time cards when he went on a fire call.