INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
AMP PACKAGING SYSTEMS IRELAND LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY ARTHUR COX AND COMPANY)
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The Company is part of AMP Incorporated. It was set up in October, 1994 and designs and manufactures electronic backplane assemblies (spinal column of electronic systems) for the European market.
The worker was employed on a temporary contract on 2nd April, 1996, as a production operator. The contract was for a fixed term of 4 months. On 6th August she was offered a permanent contract of employment. The worker underwent a medical examination prior to being offered the contract and the Company doctor stated that she was fit for employment.
The Company claims that within weeks of being offered the permanent contract the worker's attendance record deteriorated. When the worker's attendance continued to worsen it was decided to terminate her contract. A letter was posted to her on 18th December, 1996, with the termination to take effect from 20th December. The worker was given two weeks' pay in lieu of notice plus holiday pay due to her.
The worker referred her case to a Rights Commissioner but the Company refused to attend. She then referred it to the Labour Court on 7th April, 1997, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 3rd June, 1997. The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The worker had become almost completely immobile due to pain in her lower back and was unable to attend work on a number of occassions as a result. She told the Company doctor at the time of the medical examination that she had arthritis in her left hip. She kept the Comapny informed at all times (details supplied to the Court) when she unable to attend work, including sending a message by a friend when she had to attend the accident and emergency unit in the Mater Hospital on one occasion. She does not have a telephone at home which meant she had to leave the house to contact work despite the pain she was in.
2. The Company at no time warned the worker that her absenteeism could lead to dismissal. She told the manufacturing manager at her interview that she would only be absent if she was physically incapable of work. There was an agreement that any problems with absenteeism would be discussed with her first. This did not happen.
3. The worker lost her salary of £11,000 per year plus a back-to-work allowance of £3,000 per year. She would have agreed to the suspension of her contract until she was fit to return but was given no chance to discuss the situation.
4. 1. Two references supplied by the worker showed that she had had a poor attendance record in previous jobs. However, the worker assured the Company that it would not be a problem if she was made permanent in the Company. It was clearly outlined to the worker, at her interview, that her employment was contingent on a good attendance record.
2. The worker's attendance record deteriorated within weeks of being made permanent. The problem rose to a level where she did not work one day in the month of December, 1996. The production manager spoke to the worker on a number of occasions, expressing concern, and was assured that the absenteeism would not continue. The worker also frequently failed to inform the Company if she was going to be absent. It is stated in the Company/employee handbook that each worker is responsible for notifying her supervisor if he/she is unable to report for work on time.
3. At no time did the worker supply an adequate reason for her absence. She supplied no details until after receiving the Company's letter of termination. The Company was left with no alternative except to terminate the worker's contract, given her very poor attendance.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, and on the basis of the evidence presented, the Court has concluded that the claimant was unfairly treated in that she was not given any warning or the opportunity to defend herself. The Court, accordingly, recommends that she be paid compensation on the sum of £5,000 and be given a reference as to her period of employment.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.