INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
BROTHERS OF CHARITY
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioners Recommendation IR3283/01/GF.
2. The worker was employed by the Brothers of Charity from May, 1999, as a locum assistant house parent. She worked a regular 39 hour week. In August, 1999, she was offered, and accepted, an opportunity to fill a career break post. She signed the relevant contract.
- The claimant’s contract was terminated in December, 2000, as the worker who was on a career break advised that she was not returning to return to work, and, at that time, management decided to reduce the number of full time staff in order to release funds to support an "Out Reach Programme". Management claim that as a result of this reduction the worker’s employment was terminated. The Union contend that the worker’s employment was terminated because of complaints made by the worker during her employment.
- The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. His recommendation issued on the 7th January, 2002, as follows:-
- “It is clear that the claimant did sign a specified purpose contract and the contract terminated when the purpose no longer existed. While I think the communication from the respondent to the claimant could have been better on balance I do not consider this to have been an unfair dismissal.”
- The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 29th January, 2002, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 28th May, 2002, being the earliest date available to both parties.
3. 1. The Union claim the worker’s GP took the worker off work due to a stress related illness, attributed to the work environment.
2. The substantive post had become vacant in September, 2000, and the position was advertised publicly for permanent filling. The Union contend that by virtue of the claimant’s length of service, the position should have been the subject of a confined conversion competition.
3. The worker believes the interview process was flawed.
4. The claimant successfully completed a Diploma in Psychology and a Diploma in Counselling.
5. The Union contend that no credible explanation has been offered by the employer for failing to provide the worker with ongoing employment in circumstances where the work continues to be available.
4. 1. The needs of parents and service users have been changing, with the lower emphasis on residential services. It was identified that the service delivery needed to move more towards arranging social activities for the service user rather than bringing them in to a residential unit.
2. As the number of service users dwindled the question of appropriate staffing levels and planning to cater for the new Outreach Programme arose.
3. The full time compliment has been reduced by one, any requirement for back up is dealt with through locum support.
4. The worker’s complaints were investigated with an independent investigation team recommending that no action be taken.
5. There is locum work available but the claimant has not applied since her termination.
The Labour Court gave careful consideration to the written and oral submissions of the parties. The Court is satisfied that the specified purpose contract came to a natural conclusion when the worker on career break decided not to return to work, and management decided not to fill the post on a permanent basis due to the changing needs of the organisation.
However, due to her previous employment history on the organisation's locum panel, the Court is of the view that there was an added responsibility on management in this case. The worker should have been offered a locum post, if such was available at the time. Therefore, the Court recommends that the organisation should pay the claimant €2,000 in full and final settlement of this claim.
The Rights Commissioner's recommendation is varied accordingly.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th June, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Caroline Hayes, Court Secretary.