INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
IRISH YOUTH HOSTEL ASSOCIATION
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY BLAKE HORRIGAN, SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker was employed by the Association on 9th April, 1996. She was located at the Association's hostel at 61 Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7. On 10th May, 1996, she took on the role of reservations manager and staff supervisor, which involved the establishment of a reservations system and general organisation of staff. The worker claims that she was approached by the honorary treasurer of the Association about the possibility of becoming manager of the hostel. The worker declined the invitation as it would have meant working shifts and roster work.
On the 10th May, the worker asked for a contract of employment but did not receive one. On 6th September, 1996, a member of staff left the Association and the worker was asked to take on his duties. As this would have involved shift work, the worker declined. On 8th November, the worker claims, her work and job description changed in that she now had to work a roster system and her job description was that of reception staff rather than reservations manger. The worker was on sick leave from 12th - 22nd December and then took annual leave. During this period the Association decided to dismiss the worker as, it claimed, there was not enough work for her. The worker was given one month's pay in lieu of notice. She maintains that she was dismissed as she had asked for a written contract of employment on a number of occasions.
The worker referred her case to the Labour Court on 25th February, 1997, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 16th June, 1997. The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The worker had made it clear from the start that she was not interested in doing shift work. The Association knew that the work she was offered on 6th September involved shift work. She was put on rostered work on 8th November without her consent.
2. The real reason for the worker's dismissal was her insistence on getting a contract of employment. She had requested one herself on a number of occasions and her solicitor had twice written to the Association in November, 1996. The Association's claim that the reduction in reservations was the reason for dismissal is not true. The nature of the business is seasonal and it is normal for a fall in reservations after summer. The worker was given no warning regardind her dismissal.
4. 1. During the high season there was enough work to keep the worker busy. From October onwards the reservations diminished considerably, 16% down on the previous year. The Association realised that it could no longer justify the worker's role as reservations manger and tried to keep her employed by giving her additional duties. The worker refused the work. The Association did intend to issue a contract of employment to the worker but she went on annual/sick leave before it could be issued. It was left with no choice but to dismiss the worker because of the reduction in reservations. The worker has not been replaced.
The Court finds the method of dismissal and the background to this case to be grossly unfair.
The fact that the employer failed to furnish a contract of employment from May, 1996 to date of dismissal, December, 1996, despite committing to do so, is unacceptable, as is sending a letter of dismissal without any prior warning while the employee was on annual leave.
Taking into account all the issues involved, the Court recommends that the employer pay the employee a lump sum equal to 3 months' salary, (less the one month already paid) as compensation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.