A Spanish worker has brought Lidl to court after the company allegedly sacked him for working too many hours.
The claimant, known as Jean P, had been working as a manager at a Barcelona branch of the retailer since 2005, but was dismissed in June of this year.
A tribunal held on Wednesday (25 October) heard that the man had turned up to work early on multiple occasions but had failed to record his arrival.
An investigation by Lidl into his working pattern found that in April 2017 he came to work prematurely on five separate occasions.
By studying CCTV images they noted he was significantly early – around 49 to 90 minutes - before his shift was set to begin. The German firm contended these were "very serious labour breaches".
According to his dismissal letter, Jean P. "made orders, changed prices or replenished entire pallets of articles" without registering his presence on site.
Lidl policy demands that employees sign in at the start of their shifts and must be compensated for time worked. The company stated that being in-store without another employee present was prohibited and this was another factor which contributed to his sacking.
During the hearing the man's lawyer, Juan Guerra, claimed the dismissal was unfair and said his client wished for the multinational to restore his employment. Mr Guerra condemned the company's actions and said its approach was "hypocritical".
Mr. Guerra explained that Jean P. had arrived early to help prepare the store for opening and to also hit sales targets that his client was expected to meet.
"Interestingly, he is penalised, which of course is unusual, to work too hard and try to make his shop work properly," he said.
The court also heard the store had been significantly reordered by management in the lead up to the dismissal, leaving the store disorganised and dirty. This forced Jean P. to extend his shifts in response.
Spanish labour laws state that employees typically work nine hours per day unless there is an explicit contractual agreement between parties.
In 2016, a civil servant who was employed as a supervisor at a Cadiz water plant was fined after he failed to turn up for work for six years. The discovery was only made after he was commended for a 'loyal service' award by the government.