INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
MS. LOUISE REDDY
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged Unfair Dismissal
2. The Company operated as a flower shop from the 6th April, 1998 until its closure on the 6th May, 1998. The claimant was one of three workers employed as florists with the Company, from its inception, until their dismissal on the 6th May. She claims that, by dismissing her, the Company treated her unfairly. The Company rejects the worker's claim on the grounds that due to considerable losses it experienced in the first month of its existence there was no alternative but to cease trading . The worker referred the matter to the Labour Court, on the 22nd June, 1998, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court investigated the dispute on the 1st September, 1998. The Company made a written submission to the Court but did not attend the hearing. The worker made a written submission to the Court, which was expanded upon during the course of the hearing.
3. 1. The worker did her utmost, along with her 2 colleagues, to make the business a success. However, the premises were not in a fit condition from the outset as building work was still incomplete, and there was neither lighting nor a till nor a range of other requirements (details supplied to the Court).
2. The worker left another job to work in the shop, having been led to believe that the business would be a long-term venture when informed that her conditions would reviewed after 6 months.
3. The manner of her dismissal was discourteous in the extreme and all the more shocking when, on arriving at the premises to collect her personal effects, the worker was refused admission despite the fact that the shop was still trading and being staffed by a relative of the employer (details supplied to the Court).
4.The claim by the employer that the business was closed due to its small turnover is rejected on the grounds that it would be reasonable to expect such a venture to be slow to start, especially in view of the state of unpreparedness of the premises.
5. The employer declined, when requested, to provide the worker with a written explanation of the circumstances of her dismissal.
4. 1. Over the first month of business, the operating loss amounted to over £3,000 and, accordingly, it was financially impossible to continue trading.
2.Subsequent to the closure of the shop, the premises remained open, manned by the employer and her niece, in an attempt to dispose of unsold stock. At no stage was an attempt made to mislead any member of staff.
3.The employer has fulfilled all obligations under employment law. A genuine redundancy situation exists in the present case in accordance with the provisions of the Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967-97, in that “the employer has ceased, or intends to cease, to carry out the business for the purpose for which the employee was employed”. There was no entitlement to a redundancy payment or notice of same under the Redundancy Payments Acts as the employee did not have 2 years’ continuous service, and there was no entitlement to notice under the terms of the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts, 1973-1991, as she did not have 13 weeks’ continuous service. Furthermore, all monies owing were paid in full, which included wages, annual leave and public holiday entitlements.
The employer did not attend the Court due to a previous engagement but sent in a written background to the case.
The Court considered this submission, in addition to the written and oral submission of the claimant.
It is clear that the business had no chance of showing a profit in 4 weeks given the background problems of start-up. It is also clear that the employer had indicated her intention to continue for some months at least, given her commitment to review the employee's salary after 6 months.
While the Court can understand the financial difficulties arising here due to the slow take-off of the business, this does not excuse the manner in which the claimant was treated, particularly as she had left a job to join the Company. She was not told of her dismissal by the employer before the shop was closed and, subsequently, was not allowed into the shop to collect belongings, although the shop was open for business.
The Court also finds it difficult to understand why the employer could not give the claimant a letter explaining that she was dismissed through no fault of her own.
Having considered all the information supplied, the Court finds that the manner of dismissal was unfair and the treatment of this employee was unacceptable.
The Court recommends that the employer pay the claimant £500 in compensation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th September, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.