INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The Union is claiming that the Company has breached the permanent contract of employment by extending the probation period from 6 months to 12 months. Resulting from this extension 8 employees in the Catering Department were dismissed with no right of appeal under the terms of their probation. During the year 2000, 10 employees signed permanent contracts of employment with this extended probation period . The Union were not aware of this change. New staff on probation have an assessment 3 months after their starting date. The Company first made the Union aware of the excessive amount of sick leave in the Catering Department in January, 2001. The Company indicated that they were going to take drastic measures. The Union reminded the Company that there were disciplinary procedures in place and both sides should adhere to them.
The Company dismissed 10 permanent and some temporary staff. At a meeting with the Company, the Union was informed that the Contract of Employment included 12 months probation and that they had no rights under the terms of their probation. The Company then said they would revert back to 6 month probationary period for all new permanent staff but the 10 dismissed employees would remain dismissed. Subsequently the Company overturned their decision and two individuals were reinstated but the remaining 8 were dismissed. The Union is arguing that the Company had unilaterally imposed this change in contracts.
The Company claims that satisfactory performance and attendance at work is fundamental to the contract of employment and each of the individuals concerned had an inordinate amount of sick leave. The individuals concerned were unsuitable for confirmation in their employment on the basis that their performance and attendance was not good and they could not be retained in employment. Individual letters were sent to these employees terminating their contracts of employment effective from 2nd February, 2001. All of the employees that were dismissed were allowed appeal to the Catering Manager. Two employees were reinstated following recommendations from supervisors and appeals to the Catering Manager.
3. 1. The Company have breached an agreement in the permanent Contract of Employment by extending the probation period from 6 months to 12 months without consultations or agreement.
2. The Company had not made the Union aware of the extension in the probation period.
3. No prior warning of disciplinary action was given to the employees.
4. 1. Satisfactory performance and attendance at work is fundamental to the contract of employment. During their period of employment each of the individuals had a lot of sick leave both certified and uncertified.
2. Individual letters were sent out to these employees terminating their contracts of employment. The reasons were set out for their dismissal.
3. All who were dismissed were allowed appeal and 2 were reinstated following recommendations from supervisors and the Catering Manager.
While the Company has argued that the decision to dismiss was based on more than absence record, the Court is of the view that some of the claimants may have been disadvantaged by the change of probation period from 6 to 12 months.
The Company subsequently, following representations, reverted back to 6 months. The Court, given this situation, recommends that in this particular case, the Company allows representation, on an individual basis, by the Union, on behalf of the claimants, in relation to their dismissal.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th June, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Marian O'Connell, Court Secretary.