INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
MONAGHAN MUSHROOMS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Appeal by the Union against Rights Commissioner's recommendation No. DC274/95.
2. The appeal concerns a worker's claim for loss of earnings for a period of 9 weeks from 15th May to 18th July 1995. The claimant was hospitalised in February/March, 1995 for an operation for a prolapsed disc. Following the operation he obtained a medical certificate from his own doctor to return to work on the 15th May 1995. When he presented the medical certificate to his employer he was sent home on the grounds that the Company required him to attend a further examination by the Company doctor. The worker was eventually allowed to return to work on the 18th July 1995. The Union submitted a claim for loss of earnings.
Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On the 25th March 1996 the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:
"To say the least of it there is a substantial degree of inconsistency and confusion in the documentary evidence presented in relation to the claimant's medical condition, which simply begs the question that there should be a much greater degree of harmony in this overall area.
The most significant report in my opinion is that from the Consultant who operated on Mr. McNally, issued circa mid June 1995 and which stated "that he should be fit for work in a couple of weeks time" and against that back drop I am satisfied that he should have recommenced employment within that time frame and I therefore recommend that the Company reimburse him appropriate loss of pay with effect from Monday 3rd July 1995 until 18th July 1995, in full and final settlement of his claim".
On the 12th April, 1996 the Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal in Monaghan on the 11th July 1996.
3. 1. The worker concerned was certified to return to work by his own specialist and G.P. and therefore should have been allowed to return to work. The Company was then entitled to have him examined medically.
2. The Company doctor found nothing wrong with the worker, yet gave an opinion that he was medically unfit to carry out his duties for the foreseeable future. The Company did eventually return the claimant to work without further medical examination. The employee concerned has continued to work at his job for over a year without further difficulties.
3. The Union believes that the Rights Commissioner should have recommended granting the 9 weeks' loss claimed, on the grounds that the worker's fitness to return certificate should have been accepted by the Company.
1. The worker concerned had a number of previous absences (details to Court) and since February 1995 had submitted regular medical certificates. The Company was quite entitled, under the Company/Union agreement, not to allow him to return to work until it was satisfied that he was medically fit to do so.
2. The Company finally allowed the claimant to return to work on 18th July. Agreement was reached that his return to work was conditional on a certificate of fitness to return to work in accordance with Company practice - and that the back problem would no longer be used as an exceptional excuse for excessive levels of lateness and absenteeism.
3. The Company acted in accordance with agreed established procedures and the medical advice available in its treatment of the worker.
Based on the information before it the Court finds that the Rights Commissioner's recommendation was reasonable in the circumstances. The Court therefore rejects the appeal and upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.