INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ARDOYNE HOUSE MANAGEMENT LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH ESTATES)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker was employed by Ardoyne House as a porter in August, 1998. The day-to-day running of the House is undertaken by Irish Estates.
The worker's shift was 5.00 p.m. to midnight, Monday to Friday. The worker claims that the Chairman of the Board of Management of Ardoyne House (Management A) constantly criticised him, telling him that he was "untidy" and "too fat". The worker was also criticised by Management A and the managing agent of Irish Estates (Management B) for not wearing the jacket of his uniform at all times, and was told that his attitude was unacceptable. The worker was surprised as he felt that he had a good relationship with the residents.
The worker reported sick in the second week of November, 1998 for five days. He returned to work on the 16th of November. When he reported for work on the 19th of November he was met by Management B and was told that his employment was being terminated. He was given a cheque for £403.94, which comprised one week's wage and one week's notice.
The worker referred his case to the Labour Court on the 11th of December, 1998, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 29th of March, 1999.
3. 1. The worker was on good terms with the other porters and the residents, who appreciated his efforts. He was complimented on a number of occasions.
2. The worker cannot understand why Management had a problem with him. He was told that his attitude was unacceptable but was given no explanation as to what the problem was.
3. The worker was given no written instructions on his duties until three weeks before he was dismissed.
4. The worker was shocked by his dismissal. Again, no explanation was given. There had been no indication or warning that he was to be dismissed.
4. 1. The worker was still on probation when his employment was terminated.
2. The worker was spoken to on a number of occasions about his untidy appearance. He was bought a uniform and told that he must wear it at all times, but he did not do so.
3. Some of the residents complained that the worker was too talkative and was doing doorman duties which he was not assigned to.
4. Management did tell the worker that his attitude needed to improve. He was asked to consider whether he was right for the job. The worker became belligerent any time that he was corrected.
It is accepted by the Court that the claimant was employed on a probation period of twelve months. This was made clear in the claimant's letter of appointment which set out the terms of his contract of employment and which the claimant signed.
However, the terms of the contract of employment could not absolve the employer from following fair disciplinary procedures in dealing with any shortcomings on the part of the claimant in the performance of his duties.
The Code of Practice on Disciplinary Procedures made under Section 42 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 (S.I. No. 117 of 1996) sets out the procedural stages which an employer should follow in dealing with matters of discipline, including poor performance. While the Court acknowledges that the employer in this case was not familiar with the requirements of the Code, the Court is obliged under the Act of 1990 to have regard to its terms in disputes to which it relates.
The employer did not adhere to the requirements of the Code, and in these circumstances, the Court recommends that the worker be paid compensation in an amount equal to four weeks' pay in full and final settlement of all claims against the employer.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th April, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.