INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR803/00/GF.
2. The dispute concerns the dismissal of the worker from his position as driver supervisor/driver for alleged gross misconduct.
A meeting took place on the 30th of December, 1999, but the parties have different views of the purpose of the meeting. The Company claims that it was a disciplinary hearing to investigate 3 issues involving the worker, namely that he;
- Attended for work under the influence of alcohol
- Allowed an employee to work under a false name
- Failed to keep essential company records
The Company also claims that the worker was informed in advance of the nature of the meeting. The Union's view is that it was a normal meeting to discuss a number of issues, and that the disciplinary items were only mentioned at the end of the meeting. The shop steward stated that the charges against the worker should properly be put in writing. This was agreed to.
A second meeting took place on the 24th of January, 2000, at which the Union maintained that the Company had not complied with its own disciplinary procedures. A number of meetings followed. At a final meeting on the 11th of February, the Company withdrew the third accusation, i.e. 'Failed to keep essential company records' but stated that, because of the other 2 issues, it had no option but to terminate the worker's employment. The worker appealed this decision to the Company but was unsuccessful.
The Union referred the case to a Rights Commissioner, and in his findings and decision he stated;
"I do not accept that the dismissal was unfair but I believe that the company were wrong in not issuing the claimant with appropriate notice. His behaviour did not constitute gross misconduct.
Therefore, I recommend he be paid one weeks wages (gross) in lieu of notice"
Both sides appealed the decision to the Labour Court - the Union on the 12th of September, 2000, and the Company on the 20th of Septeber, 2000 - in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 1st of February, 2001.
3. 1. The Company did not follow its own disciplinary procedures. The worker should have been issued with verbal and written warnings but this did not happen. The worker denies that he was told in advance of the meeting on the 30th of December that it was to be a disciplinary hearing.
2. The Company initially accused the worker of attending work 'smelling of drink', but later changed it to being 'under the influence of drink', a much more serious charge.
3. Because of bad relationships between the Company and Union, the worker had no chance of getting a fair hearing. The Union does not believe that he was guilty of gross misconduct, and he should not have been dismissed. The Rights Commissioner also stated that he was not guilty of gross misconduct.
4. 1. The worker was dismissed in accordance with the Company's disciplinary procedures. The behaviour that he admitted to was clearly gross misconduct. The Union did not dispute this fact at either local level meetings or at the Rights Commissioner's hearing. The Rights Commissioner found that fair procedures had been afforded to the worker.
2. The worker had knowingly allowed another employee to work under a false name and, as a result this employee was not properly insured. This had potentially serious implications for the Company, and its main client.
3. The worker admitted to attending work under the influence of alcohol. This was a serious breach of regulation as he was not fit to drive.
4. The worker was told in advance of the meeting of the 30th of December that it was to be a disciplinary hearing.
Having given consideration to all aspects of this case, the Court is of the view that the procedures used to discipline the worker on allegation of gross misconduct were flawed and not in keeping with the Company's "Disciplinary Policy and Procedure".
As the bond of trust is clearly broken between the worker and the Company, the Court recommends that he should be paid a sum of £2,500 in full and final settlement of this claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th February, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.