INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's recommendation CW57/96.
2. The issue in dispute concerns a verbal warning which was issued to a member of staff on 26th January, 1996. The employee concerned requested a meeting with his supervisor to discuss an incident which had occurred on the previous day. The Company states that following the initial discussion the supervisor availed of the opportunity to discuss problems with the employee's work performance. Later that day, on her manager's instruction, the supervisor issued a verbal warning to the employee. The Union claims that this was a breach of the Company/Union agreement and that, therefore, the warning should be withdrawn.
The dispute was the subject of a Rights Commissioner's investigation on 21st October, 1996. His recommendation issued as follows:-
"I recommend that the Union and (the worker) accept the Company decision in this instance."
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on 15th November, 1996 in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on 9th January, 1997.
3. 1. Supervisors who are Union members have never previously issued warnings to staff nor have they understood it to be part of their duties. The Company/Union agreement states that verbal warnings will be issued by a manager. The warning issued by the supervisor is, therefore, a breach of the agreement. The agreement should be upheld as any breach could have serious consequences for all members of staff.
2. Prior to the 26th January, 1996, the employee never received complaints about his work performance. He had initiated the meeting on that day to discuss another matter and was amazed when his supervisor gave him a verbal warning a few hours later. No member of senior management offered him an opportunity to put forward his case.
4. 1. The verbal warning was fully justified as the employee's performance has consistently been below the level required of him. This can be verified by computerised reports. The supervisor also observed various problems with the employee's performance of his duties and had received complaints from other members of staff about the employee concerned.
2. The supervisor is the employee's front-line manager and it was appropriate for her to issue the verbal warning. She did so on her manager's instruction as has been normal practice throughout the department in similar cases.
The Court, having considered the evidence presented, finds no reason to amend the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
The Court, therefore, upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th January, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.