Pet crematorium worker sacked after mixing up animals’ ashes

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A crematorium worker was sacked after mixing up the ashes of dead pets, an employment tribunal heard.

Jack Hamilton “purposefully” pushed the animals’ remains to the back of the cremation oven – known as a cremulator – in between uses, which would have undoubtedly led to contamination of the remains.

The tribunal heard such a mix up would lead to catastrophic reputational damage for the crematorium as people needed to be assured they were collecting only their loved pet.

It could have resulted in it losing its licence to dispose of animals, the tribunal heard.

After being sacked for gross misconduct Mr Hamilton took North East Lincolnshire Council, which ran the crematorium, to the tribunal.

Unfair dismissal claim rejected 

However, his claims of unfair dismissal were unsuccessful – with the panel “entirely satisfied” with his dismissal.

The tribunal, held in Lincoln, heard that in October 2019 Mr Hamilton began work as a crematorium technician within the bereavement services at Grimsby Crematorium.

On 22 December last year, Mr Hamilton’s boss and a colleague were loading a pet into the animal cremator, before it became clear there were the remains of a different pet still inside.

The panel heard Mr Hamilton had completed the last cremation – where the remains had been pushed to the back of the cremator, in what appeared to be a deliberate manner to conceal them.

Remains ‘undoubtedly’ mixed 

Having seen the other remains, Mr Hamilton’s boss suspended him, saying the machine had not been “de-ashed” having found several bone fragments which clearly showed an animal had been cremated.

The tribunal heard there had “undoubtedly” been a mix up of animal remains – which would result in the “catastrophic reputational damage” of the council.

The tribunal judgement concluded: “We are entirely satisfied in the circumstances that dismissal was within the band of reasonable responses.

“His actions could have led to the loss of that licence with the result that [the council] would no longer be able to carry out pet cremations.”

Mr Hamilton’s claim of not being offered the right of appeal was also dismissed.

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