INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
GAZEBO FURNITURE & INTERIORS
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company on the 6th March, 2000. His duties involved the day to day handling of all stock in the stock room warehouse and assisting the van drivers on deliveries. Management also agreed there was a possibility that the worker would be given the opportunity of driving duties once he received his full driving licence. The worker's employment ended on the 27th July, 2000. He claimed that he was unfairly dismissed. The Company rejected the claim. On the 27th September, 2000 the worker referred a complaint to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held on the 10th January, 2001.
3. 1. At the commencement of his employment Management informed the worker that he would need his driving licence. As his licence was out of date the worker applied for a new licence and also applied for a driving test. On the 26th July, the worker was due to take his pre-test. On that day he was instructed to go to Enfield to unload merchandise from a container at the Company's warehouse. The worker informed his colleague, driving the delivery van, that he could not do the unloading because of his pre-test arrangement. The worker also contacted his base to advise his Manager, but she was unavailable. The worker left the message
with a colleague to relay to Management. The following day the Managing Director contacted the worker by phone and in an abusive tone arbitrarily and unfairly dismissed him. There were no witnesses to the dismissal. The worker is seeking appropriate redress.
4. 1. The worker was absent on a number of occasions from the employment. He failed to notify Management of the absences.
2. Although the worker was instructed to assist with the unloading of the container at the warehouse he did not do so, yet it was part of his normal duties. This was not the first time that the worker refused to co-operate in his duties. The Company was not notified of the worker's intended driving test.
3. The Managing Director contacted the worker on the 27th July to get an explanation for his behaviour. The worker was abusive to Management and other staff and categorically stated that he was resigning. At no stage was the worker dismissed, he left the employment of his own volition.
The Court has difficulty in reconciling the different accounts of the exchange between the claimant and the Company General Manager which preceded the claimant leaving his place of employment on 27th July, 2000. What is clear is that the General Manager telephoned the claimant in relation to his absence on the previous day and admonished him in terms, which by the Manager's own admission, became heated and abusive.
The Court accepts that the Company had ample grounds for initiating disciplinary action against the claimant on the basis of his general conduct, including his unauthorised absence from work on the previous day. This would have been the appropriate response to the situation which arose, rather than that embarked upon by the Manager. Given the nature and content of the Manager's approach, as related to the Court, the claimant could have concluded that he had been dismissed and responded accordingly.
In the Court's view, the Company must accept some responsibility for the apparent misunderstanding that occurred. However, the claimant, by absenting himself from work on the previous day, contributed significantly to what transpired.
In all the circumstances of this case the Court recommends that the Company offer and the claimant accepts an ex gratia payment of £250 in full and final settlement of all claims against the Company.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th January, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.