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German bank ‘sleep error’ sacking unlawful

11-06-2013

A bank supervisor who was fired after failing to spot an error caused by a dozing colleague that could have cost their employer over €200m has been reinstated following a labour court decision in Germany this week. A sleep deprived clerk managed to transfer €222,222,222.22 between accounts instead of the intended €64.20 thanks to falling asleep at their desk during a work day last April. When the error went unnoticed by the supervisor it was approved along with the rest of the day’s usual transactions, and the multi-million euro transfer was only stopped when another bank employee noticed the unusually-large sum.

The 48 year-old supervisor was sacked as a result of the oversight. The court heard how they had checked over 800 other transactions that day, and a typical approval took around one second of scrutiny. The court ruled that the mistake was a simple error and wasn’t motivated by malicious intent, therefore should have carried a warning rather than contract termination and the employee should be reinstated in their role.

The incident highlights the potential dangers of sleep deprivation at work. While some stories regarding suddenly-sleeping employees have tragic endings – in the cases of drowsy driving or machinery operation – this case was perhaps a little more light-hearted. However, if the error hadn’t been spotted by another eagle-eyed worker at the bank it could have had serious financial implications and unthinkable repercussions for the institution as a whole. Good sleep is one of the key elements in achieving positive work productivity, and without a rejuvenated mind the risks can become extremely serious – whether it’s through falling asleep at the wheel or at the keyboard.
 


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