INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CONDUIT ENTERPRISES IRELAND LIMITED
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker commenced employment with the Company as a directory enquiries telephone operator on 14th November, 1996. Under his contract of employment, the worker began a 2 weeks training course followed by a 6 months probation period.
The worker was originally employed as a night-shift operator. When a major customer suspended its night services from December, 1996 to March, 1997, the worker was moved to day shifts and weekends.
The worker was dismissed on 6th February, 1997, with the Company citing unsuitability and poor time-keeping as the reasons. The worker referred his case to the Labour Court on 11th April, 1997, in accordance with Section 20(1), Industrial Relations Act, 1969. 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 was employed on a contract to work nights - 10.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. The Company broke the contract when it moved the worker to day shifts and week-ends. The worker was involved in other activities, including community radio and voluntary work. He informed the Company that the change in working hours would make it difficult for him to attend work in the afternoon. As a result of the change he was late on 2/3 occasions. Management refused to accept his reasons. The worker was informed that his situation would be reviewed at Christmas. Instead, he was unfairly dismissed in February, 1997.
4. 1. The worker's contract was terminated before the end of his probation period. His contract stated that a worker could be dismissed if "an employee is found to be incapable of/unable to perform his/her duties as outlined in the above job description". The worker was unsuitable for the job for a number of reasons. He was late on 2 occasions during his training period. On the second occasion, when he was 30 minutes late, he was warned by the director of the Company that the Company could not tolerate staff arriving late, due to the nature of the business. The Company provides live telephone operator services, receiving phone calls on behalf of customers. On 1st February, 1996, the worker was 90 minutes late. He had offered to work on the day in question, a Saturday, and became aggressive with the director when questioned about his late arrival.
2. When the Company's major customer decided to change from night services in December, 1996, the Company could have made the night shift operators, including the worker concerned, redundant. Instead, it moved the workers to day shifts and made every effort to facilitate the worker regarding his outside commitments. The worker also had trouble conversing with clients as his vocabulary and telephone manner, which are crucial to the Company's service, were poor. The Company provided special tuition but the worker did not improve. Because of this, and his poor time-keeping, the Company was left with no choice but to dismiss the worker.
In the circumstances outlined, the Court has concluded that the Company acted within its rights. The Court, accordingly, does not recommend in favour of the appellant.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.