INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
RUSHBROOKE LAWN TENNIS & CROQUET CLUB LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY TOM SMYTH & ASSOCIATES)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR205/99/MR concerning severance terms.
2. The worker concerned commenced employment with Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club as a bar assistant in 1982. In May, 1998, her rate of pay was the subject of a Rights Commissioner hearing who recommended a rate of £4.50 gross per hour. Subsequently the Labour Court in AD9850 upheld the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
The Club failed to implement the terms of AD9850 and the Union served strike notice on the Club which commenced on the 31st of January, 1999.
Agreement was reached with the assistance of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for a return to work and the worker resumed duty on the 1st of March, 1999. The worker was dismissed on the 3rd of March, 1999. The Club argues that the worker failed to honour the terms of an agreement under which she returned to work and it was left with no alternative but to terminate her employment.
The issue of severance terms was the subject of a Rights Commissioner hearing on the 18th of March, 1999. The hearing was adjourned to allow both sides consider their positions. Subsequently the Club indicated that it was withdrawing from the proceedings and requested that no recommendation be issued. The Club is concerned that there is a pending civil claim arising from the dispute.
The Rights Commissioner's findings and recommendation are as follows:-
"Based on the evidence before me, and notwithstanding the fact that the worker clearly made a major contribution to the termination of her own employment, I am satisfied that the particular circumstances of this case are such as to merit a significant payment to the worker as compensation for the loss of her employment at the Club.
I therefore recommend that Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club Limited should agree to pay the worker a once-off lump sum of £8,000 in compensation for the termination of her employment and that this sum should be accepted by the wroker and MANDATE in full and final resolution of this dispute."
The worker was named in the recommendation.
The Rights Commissioner's recommendation was appealed by the Union to the Labour Court on the 19th of May, 1999 under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on the 1st of September, 1999.
3. 1. This Union attended a Rights Commissioner hearing which was requested by the Club in order to seek a recommended severance package for the termination of the worker's employment. During the hearing the Club attempted to offset any future legal proceedings against a finalised severance package.
2. The Union's position is that the purpose of a severance package is to compensate for the loss of employment. The Union is not in a position to instruct a member to forego the right to initiate legal proceedings. When this position was put forward to the Club during the Rights Commissioner hearing it withdrew from the process even though it was the Club who requested such a hearing. The position adopted by the Club is absurd. In light of the above the Court is requested to find in favour of the Union and endorse the Rights Commissioner's recommendation.
4. 1. The financial position of the Club is far from healthy and the payment of any severance lump sum would cause problems and would have to be staged over a considerable period. A meeting to discuss the severance was arranged between the Club and Union for Monday the 8th of March. In the intervening days a letter was received on behalf of the worker claiming "defamation of character" arising from a statement made by an officer of the Club during the industrial dispute. It was obvious at the meeting on the 8th of March, that the Union had not been aware of this fact. However, the meeting concluded with an agreement to take the severance issue to a third party.
2. At the new adjusted rate of £4.76 per hour, the sum of £8,000 as recommended would represent 112 weeks gross pay or 6.5 weeks per year of service. In other words it represents 2 years (104 weeks) pay plus 8 weeks notice. However, in his determination the Rights Commissioner in his "Findings" states "the fact that the worker clearly made a major contribution to the termination of her own employment" and this statement would not appear to be compatible with offering her the equivalent of two years loss of earnings rather than a fraction of same.
3. The officers of the Club are extremely anxious and apprehensive of the fact that there is a pending civil claim arising from this dispute and that any judgement by the Court would not compromise the defence of that case.
It is the decision of the Court that the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner be upheld and the appeal disallowed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.