INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
HUDSON KILLEEN LIMITED
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY S. O'CONNOR, SOLICITOR)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No RC1082/97.
2. The appeal concerns a worker who commenced with the Company on the 19th of May, 1997, as a production operative, on a probationary period of 3 months. Her employment terminated on the 7th of October, 1997 and the worker claims that she was unfairly dismissed. The Company denies that a dismissal took place and alleges that, during a meeting of the worker with her supervisor and the Production Manager, during which she abused both verbally, she stated that she was leaving her employment.
The matter was the subject of an investigation by a Rights Commissioner at which the Company did not attend but to which it did make a written submission. The Rights Commissioner concluded, based on the evidence presented, that the worker had completed her probation before being told of any difficulties in her employment. As no specifics had been presented to the worker, the Rights Commissioner found, it would have been impossible for her to address any deficiency in her work.
The Rights Commissioner found further that the worker's complaints about her supervisor and the absence of specifics in relation to her work had been ignored by the Production Manager, that there were no written warnings given to the worker and that the extension of her trial period and the introduction of additional reviews constituted a change to her conditions of employment, details of which should have been provided in writing.
The Rights Commissioner found that the treatment of the worker, culminating in the termination of her employment, was unfair and recommended that she be paid £1200 in full and final settlement of her claim.
The Recommendation was appealed, by the Company, to the Labour Court, on the 7th of April 1998, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on the 2nd of June, 1998.
3. 1. The Company acceded to the worker's request for a meeting with the Production Manager and her supervisor. The worker was invited to bring a representative with her but she declined to do so. At the meeting, she verbally abused both of the other parties present and insisted that she was leaving the employment.
2. The worker was on a period of probation for three months. Following a discussion with her about her performance this period was extended in writing by a further three months in order to give her sufficient time to improve to the standards required.
3. The worker's supervisor pointed out to her on numerous occasions problems in relation to her performance. She was aware that if she had any difficulties in relation to any aspect of her employment that she could approach the Production Manager. At no time did she point out that she had any difficulties with her supervisor.
4. 1. The worker was qualified to do the work as she had good previous experience in the area. It was never explained to her that her work was not up to standard.
2. The worker sought the meeting with management on October 7th because she had felt uncomfortable at work for a period previously. She understood that she would be meeting the Production Manager in private and was not advised that she could have representation with her. She denies verbal abuse and at no stage did she terminate her employment. The worker clearly recalls being told that she was being given 2 weeks' notice which she was told she "would not be required to work".
The Court considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties.
The Court had before it written and oral input from the Company which was not available to the Rights Commissioner due to the non-attendance of the Company at the Rights Commissioner's hearing.
Having considered all the information presented by the parties, a good deal of which is contradictory, the Court is of the view that on the final day of employment it is possible that, due to the heated debate, confusion arose in relation to dismissal. It would have been better if the matter had been handled differently by both sides.
Taking this into account and having considered the background to the case, the Court is of the view that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation of an award of £1,200 should be substituted by an award of 25% less, i.e., £900.
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation to be amended accordingly.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th August, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.