A bus driver has been sacked from his job after he left work early to attend the birth of his first son.

A Yorkshire bus driver has apparently been sacked from his job after rushing to hospital to attend the birth of his first son. Mr Shaun Hooley, 38, has worked as a bus driver since he was 21 years old. He had only been working in his job for Tates Travel for 10 weeks when he received a call four hours after the start of his shift informing him that his partner had gone into labour. He immediately telephoned his employers at the Tates Travel depot and asked for a cover driver to be organised so he could finish work early to get to the hospital and also said that he would continue with his shift but would call back later to see what arrangements had been made so that he could leave work. However, there was then a dispute as to what happened next; Mr Hooley apparently claims that he made several more calls to the depot but was “getting nowhere”, whereupon he dropped off his passengers and returned to the depot. However, the bus company alleges that attempts were made to contact Mr Hooley but that he hadn’t replied, and that Mr Hooley had returned to the depot without being informed that a relief driver had been organised. At this point Mr Hooley was informed that he was in breach of his contract of employment and dismissed.

Mr Hooley later expressed frustration at the lack of legal protection for employees in his situation, claiming that he had been “hardworking and never let them down. I thought they would be compassionate… I’ve lost my job but I did get to the hospital in time and I was therefore the birth of my first son, Jacob Thomas”.

Mr Graham Mallinson, managing director of Tates Travel, stated that “He (Mr Hooley) was 14 miles from the depot when he phoned to say he wanted time off to attend his baby’s birth. That was about four hours after he started his shift. We told him we would try to get a relief driver and at 9.40 we had organised one. We phoned him but he didn’t reply. He came back to the depot a little after 10am with an empty bus and he was told he was in breach of his contract and he was dismissed. He was on a three month trial and if he had given us reasonable notice that his partner was expecting a baby and he wanted to be at the birth he could have taken time off”.

As Mr Hooley had only been working for his former employers for 10 weeks at the date of the incident he would not receive protection against being dismissed under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (which only protects employees with two or more years’ continuous service unless they have been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason.

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