INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 1107/97.
2. The dispute concerns one worker who was employed by the school as a part-time caretaker from 18th of June, 1997 until the termination of his employment on the 1st October, 1998.
As the school summer vacation was beginning around the time of his appointment, it was agreed between the worker and the school Principal that, as part of his duties, he would manufacture some furniture at his workshop at home, which he would fit in the school subsequently. The school re-opened in September, 1997 and, on the 1st of October, the Principal contacted the worker expressing dissatisfaction with the amount of time he had been spending in the school. The worker went to the school premises and an altercation ensued which culminated in the termination of his employment. He claims that he was unfairly dismissed. The school's position is that the worker walked out of the job. The dispute was the subject of an investigation by a Rights Commissioner who concluded that, while the employer's approach alleging dissatisfaction with the worker was not the correct one, the worker had over-reacted. The Rights Commissioner concluded, further, that at the time of the dispute the worker had not intended to continue to work for the school but had, subsequently, changed his mind.
The Rights Commissioner recommended that it was not possible for the employment relationship to continue between the parties, primarily due to the worker's behaviour. She found, however, that not all of the wrong was on the side of the worker and that the approach of the Principal was ill-judged. In finding that the dismissal was not unfair, the Rights Commissioner recommended that the worker be paid 1 week's wages in full and final settlement of the case.
The recommendation was appealed to the Labour Court, by the worker, on the 28th of May, 1998, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal, in Donegal, on the 9th of March, 1999, the earliest date convenient to both parties.
1. At no time did the worker threaten or assault anyone. Following a telephone call from the Principal on the morning of the 1st of October, the worker agreed to go to the school to fit some units. The Principal expressed dissatisfaction with the work done over the summer period. When the worker was offered a written account of all that had been done, the Principal became agitated, and indicated that the worker's performance was unsatisfactory and he stated that he was letting the worker go. On being advised of this, the worker gathered his tools and left the premises.
2. The worker did not behave in the threatening manner alleged by the Principal.
1. When contacted by phone on the 1st of October, the worker's hours were queried by the Principal. His response was abusive and aggressive. Shortly afterwards, the worker came to the school premises and behaved in a threatening and aggressive manner (details supplied to the Court).
2. Subsequent to the altercation on the school premises, the worker indicated to the school manager that he would not be returning to the school as "he could not work with" the School Principal.
3. The worker dismissed himself. Only afterwards was the decision taken by the school not to take him back as he was entirely unsuitable in a school situation.
The Court, having considered the submissions of the parties and in particular the oral responses made during the hearing, is of the view that the actions of Management in this case were fair and reasonable under the circumstances. The Court, therefore, overturns the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and decides that no termination payment is due to the appellant from Management.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th April, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.