INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY HOLME, O'MALLEY,SEXTON)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker commenced employment on the 11th of August, 1998, as an office administrative assistant. Her training period began by working full-time for 2 weeks. Initially she worked 2½ days per week and this increased to 4 full days, including every second Sunday. Her duties included operating a switchboard and processing all Mid-Western Health Board forms of clients who had procured spectacles through their medical cards.
In November, 1998, the worker claims that she was given the added responsibility of processing PRSI forms, which involved issuing 50 - 80 cheques per week, and entering details of same in the computer. In March/April 1999, the director of the Company appointed a member of staff as general manager. The worker claims that it was around this time that she began to experience problems in her job. She claims that the administration manager was unhappy with the appointment, and that relations between her and the worker deteriorated. The worker claims that as a result of the stress she was going through, she went on sick leave at the beginning of June, 1999.
The worker returned on the 8th of June and that evening, she claims that the director told her that because of the changes in the office she was to be let go. When she asked for a reason she was told that it was a case of "last in, first out". The worker believes that she was unfairly dismissed and referred her case to the Labour Court on the 30th of August, 1999, in accordance with Section 20 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 29th of September, 1999, in Limerick.
3. 1. The worker was given no contract of employment or terms of agreement documentation. She was given no warning that she was to be dismissed.
2. The worker had a very heavy workload. The telephone switchboard was consistently busy. However, she was willing to take on the extra duties involved in dealing with the PRSI forms
3. The administration manager later apologised to the worker because of her behaviour towards her. The worker felt that she was caught in a power struggle between the general manager and the administration manager. It made life very difficult for her in the office.
4. The worker was given no indication that her work was unsatisfactory, nor was she given any proper reason as to why she was dismissed. She had worked for a number of years in other offices and had no problems.
4. 1. It became apparent in early 1999, that the worker's quality of work was not progressing satisfactorily. The matter was discussed with the administration manager, and further training was agreed for the worker.
2. The worker was encouraged to improve her telephone skills. She had a habit of trying to answer telephone queries that she was not qualified for. This risked a loss of business for the Company.
3. The worker was given extra time to deal with any extra work but, despite this, there was a growing back-log. It was decided to terminate the worker's employment as she could not cope with the demands of a busy office.
The Court notes that the employee was not given any written contract of employment. Similarly, no details of disciplinary procedures were provided as no such procedures were in place in the Company at the time of the termination of the employment. It is acknowledged by the employer that no formal warning was given to the claimant regarding her work performance, and it was not indicated to her that her future employment was in jeopardy. Therefore, the Court finds that the process of dismissal was unfair.
The Code of Practice on Disciplinary Procedures made under Section 42 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, sets out the procedures which an employer must adopt when dealing with disciplinary matters. The employer indicated to the Court that a number of issues are currently being addressed by the Company, including the issuing of contracts of employment and disciplinary procedures in accordance with legal obligations.
The Court recommends that the employee be paid a lump sum of £450 in full and final settlement of all claims arising from her dismissal.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th October, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.