INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
THE SILVER GRANITE
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker was interviewed for the job by a director of the Company (a public house) and the head chef in early August 1997 and began work on the 11th of August. She worked from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. five days per week. In November, 1997, a new menu was to be introduced which involved serving food in the evenings and at week-ends (the menu did not actually start until mid-December). The worker acknowledges that this was part of the reason she was given the job. She began to work different shifts and did not have a set roster, working on a day to day basis. The director's brother became manager of the public house in November, 1997.
In January 1998, the worker claims that she asked the manager if she could have a set roster. She also enquired about a wage increase. The worker claims that the manager agreed to fix a set roster. In the meantime, the worker and the Head Chef made out a roster together which the worker was to start on the 19th of January. She claims that she gave this roster to the manager on duty. On the 21st of January the manager told the worker that she would have to work the coming Saturday's evening shift as a party had been booked. The worker told him that she could not as she had made previous arrangements for Saturday. She was already rostered to work a split shift on Friday, Saturday and Sunday lunchtime.
On Saturday, 21st of January at 1.15 p.m., the manager again told the worker that she would be needed that evening. The worker said she could not do the evening shift. She claims that the manager told her that if she did not do the shift she need not bother coming to work on the following Monday. The worker went home at 1.30 p.m. and returned at 4.00 p.m. She again spoke to the manager who, she claims, confirmed that she was dismissed. (There is some dispute as to what exactly was said between the
parties). The Company's view is that the worker was not dismissed but walked out herself.
The worker referred her case to the Labour Court on the 10th of March, 1998, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of April, 1998. The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. At her interview, the worker was told that she would be given a set roster once the new menu was introduced in November. The worker was doing different shifts, sometimes arriving at work and being told to go home and come back later for a different shift.
2. The worker made out a roster with the head Chef for the week beginning 19th of January which she gave to the manager on duty. After handing over the roster, she made arrangements for the following Saturday evening. The Company knew in advance that she would not be available on the Saturday. The head Chef was also not available for the Saturday. On Wednesday 21st, she again told the manager that she would not be available for the Saturday evening. She prepared most of the food for the party on Saturday evening. The worker had plenty of experience in the catering trade and had worked very hard while employed by the Company. There had been no complaints about her work. It was unfair to dismiss her because she could not work one shift.
4. 1. The move to serving food in the evenings and week-ends did not take place until mid-December. The delay arose because the manager had been involved in a car accident. The worker acknowledges that week-end work was part of her duties. The Company was trying to recruit more staff to work evenings and week-ends.
2. The worker should not have walked out on Saturday afternoon. She would have known before then that she was needed on Saturday evening, especially as the Head Chef was not available. The manager on duty did not clear the roster that the worker had made with the Head Chef. The worker was not dismissed. She terminated her own employment.
It is the Court's view that this was an unfortunate incident that could have been handled better by both sides.
The Company knew that a roster had been agreed with the employee, accepts that the Head Chef was not told of the Saturday booking, and that the employee had indicated on Wednesday that she would not be available. Between Wednesday and Saturday no effort was made to find an alternative chef.
The employee, while she did agree working arrangements, was recruited for week-end work and did leave her station during the lunch hour serving, thereby leaving no chef on duty.
While the parties disagree on the exact content of the conversation held at lunch time on the Saturday, it is possible that a misunderstanding did take place between them during a heated conversation.
Taking into account all of the above, the Court is of the view that this matter is best resolved by the employer providing the claimant with a suitable reference as he indicated he would during the Court hearing.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th April, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.