Posted: May 10, 2022, 10:32 a.m.

Last update: May 10, 2022, 12:12 p.m.

A lower-level manager at Paddy Power only did what she was told when she extended credit to a punter. However, his actions still warranted the firing of Paddy Power’s parent, Flutter Entertainment, a workplace arbitrator has now determined.

power of rice
A Paddy Power betting shop. The company’s firing of an employee for following rules she should have ignored was not against the law. (Image: The Telegraph)

When Emma Phillips agreed to allow certain Irish punters to place bets on credit, the assistant manager of Paddy Power was merely following accepted practice. This “misplaced loyalty”, however, led Flutter Entertainment, Paddy Power’s parent company, to fire her for gross misconduct in 2020.

Phillips was unhappy with the dismissal and filed a grievance with the Irish Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The matter finally fell on the desk of WRC referee Brian Dolan, who recently issued a ruling. the Irish mirror reports that while he acknowledged that Phillips was merely following orders, she should have reacted differently.

When doing the right thing is wrong

Dolan admitted that, while perhaps unfair and harsh, Flutter’s decision to fire Phillips was valid. The company was responsible for enforcing the regulations and its own values. Moreover, Phillips failed in his obligations. The correct course of action would have been to report the conduct to his superiors, Dolan added.

Most companies expect their employees to follow the orders they receive. Phillips’ case is no different. She started as a sales assistant in 2015, then worked her way up to assistant manager five years later. Now well-known in the business, she wanted to keep climbing.

However, to do so, she would have to make certain sacrifices. Having seen other customers receiving credit at different betting shops, she probably thought she was in the clear when her boss asked her to do the same.

Additionally, Phillips also thought it was a smart business choice. If she refused the credit, the store could lose its commercial and economic viability.

However, the issue eventually surfaced, and Flutter accused her of violating company policy regarding issuing credit, as well as falsifying cash shortages. As a result, the company felt they had no choice but to let her go.

IOUs are common practice

Phillips argued that allowing customers to place bets on credit was standard practice used by a number of stores. They allowed some bettors, those who knew the stores best, to place orders over the phone and then show up later to make payment. On other occasions, individuals show up to place a bet but forget to bring a means of payment.

However, Flutter does not condone the practice. This goes against its responsible gambling practices, the company says.

In addition to possibly facilitating gambling-related damages, there is an accounting problem with issuing IOUs. The betting shop registers the transaction on the day it receives the bet, which also means modifying the financial data of that day. This will reflect income that does not actually exist on that day.

Phillips repeatedly acknowledged that she knew she was not following policy or protocol. However, since what she was doing was the norm, she felt compelled to conform to it. In doing so, she lost her job. But she also found problems that Paddy Power needed to fix.