INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation 1310/97.
2. The Company is based at Ballymote, County Sligo, and employs approximately 95 workers. The Union referred two claims of alleged unfair dismissal to a Rights Commissioner on behalf of two employees who had been employed on temporary contracts. The Rights Commissioner carried out an investigation on the 15th of April, 1998, and issued his recommendation on the 23rd of April, 1998, as follows:-
"I recommend that the Company offers and (claimant A) and (claimant B) accept £200 each in settlement of this dispute".
(Both claimants were named in the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation).
The Company accepted the recommendation in respect of claimant A but appealed the recommendation in respect of claimant B to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on the 7th of July, 1998, in Sligo.
4. 1. The Company was surprised and dismayed that the Rights Commissioner issued one recommendation in respect of both claimants. The two cases were separate and differed substantially in nature. The award of £200 compensation appeared to be based on the fact that the first worker's contract was extended and, by implication, that the higher rate of pay should have been applied.
2. In the case of the second claimant the original terms of her contract of employment were honoured in full. The worker's specific allegation was that the production manager had called her a liar and she was seeking an apology from him. These allegations were not substantiated at the Rights Commissioner's hearing and were not mentioned in his recommendation.
3. The worker's contract of employment was for a duration of six months. During her employment her performance was generally average or below average and she received a warning in relation to absenteeism. She did not achieve the mandatory performance targets necessary to attract the full rate of pay. The Company, therefore, did not renew the worker's contract when it expired.
3. 1. The Company/Union agreement clearly states that the probationary period is four months. After the expiry of four months workers should be paid the full rate of pay of £4.148 per hour instead of the probationary rate of £3.318 per hour. The Company refused to apply the full rate to the claimant.
2. As there was no supervisor on duty on the 21st of May, 1997, when the worker injured her wrist at work, she reported the accident to the shop steward. Although she submitted medical certificates to the Company, the production manager accused the worker of having an old wrist injury and of lying about the accident.
3. The worker was extremely upset about being called a liar and sought to prove that this was not true. The worker discovered that she was being dismissed when her name did not appear on the duty roster. When she met the production manager to discuss this she was not informed of her right to have a representative with her.
4. In addition to the Rights Commissioner's recommendation of payment of £200 compensation, the Company should also pay the worker's hospital and doctor's bills, loss of wages and £350 in respect of the difference between full pay and probationary pay for the final two months of her employment. The production manager should also apologise to the worker for the hurt caused by his accusation.
The Court notes that the Company clarified at the hearing that it was appealing the recommendation in relation to one of the claimants only and that it was prepared to pay the amount recommended to the other claimant.
On the basis of the submissions and arguments presented, the Court is satisfied that the Rights Commissioner's recommendation is reasonable and is based on the fact that fair procedures were not adhered to. It was also clarified at the hearing that there are other matters outstanding to be dealt with and outside the scope of this appeal.
The Court, accordingly, upholds the recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th July, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.