INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
IRISH NATIONAL STUD
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. To re-employ the worker into her former position after returning from maternity leave and compensation for loss of earnings.
2. The Company, whose main functions include managing and operating a stud business, also operate a tourism business from February to November each year. This involves the running of a gift shop, organised guided tours, restaurant and related reception. Each year the Company employs seasonal staff to cover the tourism season. The dispute before the Court relates to a claim by the Union on behalf of it's member for re-employment following maternity leave to the position she held in the three previous seasons and compensation for the financial loss suffered. The Company rejects the claim on the basis that at the end of the tourism season each year all seasonal employees cease to be employed by the Company and the Company therefore has no on going obligations to the individuals concerned.
On the 13th September, 2004, the Union referred the issue to the Labour Court, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 12th October, 2004.
- The Union agreed to be bound by the Court’s Recommendation.
3. 1. The treatment of it's member by the Company was in breach of natural justice and also not in compliance with the Maternity Protection Act, 1994.
2. The position previously held by the it's member has been filled by another person working a nine day fortnight while the job offered to it's member was for week-end work.
3. The members working record over the three previous seasons was exemplary and immediate re-instatement and financial compensation for the loss is sought.
4. 1. The Company does not accept and will not accede to the Unions request for the return of it's member to her former job as by doing so would undermine the Company's business by giving seasonal staff on-going permanent employment rights which was never intended.
2. The Unions claim regarding maternity leave is without foundation in that it's member was not an employee of the Company at the time the maternity leave would have arisen and she has no inherent right to work in the Company for any particular tourism season.
3. The Company's offer of employment to another individual prior to offering it to the claimant does not give rise to any cause of action or basis of complaint. The Company is entitled to organise it's business as it sees fit and does not owe the claimant any form of compensation.
The claim before the Court is made on behalf of a worker who seeks to be re-employed in the position she held prior to her maternity leave, and to be paid compensation for the financial loss she suffered during the period of absence from work. The claim is made under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and not under the Maternity Protection Act, 1994, under which this Court has no jurisdiction to hear cases.
The employer stated to the Court that"the Company operates a practice whereby each year, it generally offers seasonal employment for the coming tourism season to individuals formerly employed by the Company (usually in the order in which they had been employed previously) and who are believed suitable to the roles to be filled".
The employer indicated to the Court that as a result of incorrect information presented to him, another worker with less service than the claimant was placed in a job where the main duties were at the reception desk.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court is of the view that bearing in mind the practice, which operates in the Company, the worker was unfairly treated when she was not called back in sequence to the job she held prior to her maternity leave. However, the Court also notes that the worker was offered an alternative position, which she declined.
Therefore, the Court recommends that the claimant should be offered employment, in sequence for the 2005 season and should be paid a lump sum of €2500 in full and final settlement of this claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th October, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.