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Working Conditions

Lidl fires employee for working too much

Manager says he arrived early to meet sales targets after bout of restructuring at supermarket

The Lidl supermarket where the over-zealous employee worked.
The Lidl supermarket where the over-zealous employee worked.

A Lidl manager, who we will refer to only as Jean P., has been fired for working too hard. Jean managed a Barcelona branch of the German supermarket chain until June this year when the company discovered he was committing the deadly sin of starting work before the designated time in order to “get the shop ready to open to the public”. Without clocking in, Jean was “dealing with orders, changing prices and loading up entire palettes with goods,” according to the notice he received, informing him the company was letting him go.

Curiously, he is being punished for working too hard and making an effort to see that the shop runs smoothly

Juan Guerra, Jean P.'s lawyer

Lidl cites “serious breaches of contract” as the motive for Jean’s dismissal after footage on the supermarket’s security cameras revealed he was working extra hours. On several occasions in April 2017, Jean was seen to arrive at the supermarket a 5am and spend “between 49 and 87 minutes” working before clocking in, according to Lidl.

In doing so, Jean was guilty of infringing the edict that “each minute worked is paid, and each minute worked should be registered,” the letter explained. Lidl also stated that it had received “complaints” from other members of staff after Jean had suggested to them that they should also arrive early. In addition, on several occasions the manager was alone, something not allowed for security reasons.

Jean has worked for Lidl since 2005 and believes his dismissal is unfair, prompting him to make a legal claim to be reemployed by the supermarket chain. In his claim, he has made it clear that he never obliged any member of staff to accompany him to open the supermarket. He has also stated that at no time did the supermarket suggest he should not turn up early to get the supermarket ready in order to manage opening hours efficiently. His lawyer Juan Guerra, points out that if Jean broke any rules, it was more to the advantage of the company than to Jean himself.

Lidl says it received “complaints” from other members of staff after Jean suggested they should also arrive early

“Curiously, he is being punished for working too hard and making an effort to see that the shop runs smoothly,” says Guerra who adds that his client received no warnings over his behavior. Meanwhile, Jean criticizes the company’s “hypocrisy” as pressure was put on him to reach sales targets.

Jean says that working longer and harder than specified in his contract was not something he often did, but something he was forced to do by circumstance, given that the supermarket had undergone restructuring just before the footage on the security cameras unmasked his ‘misdemeanors’. According to Jean, the directors were aware that the restructuring would take time and effort. “To reach the sales targets, it was necessary to work outside opening hours,” he stated.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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