INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
IRISH BLOOD TRANSFUSION SERVICE (IBTS)
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal, breach of contract, bullying and harassment, attempts to compromise and entrap, exposure to health and safety risks.
2. The worker was employed as a Staff Nurse on a specified purpose contract circa April, 2004, to replace another employee. She was initially employed for six months and this was extended to March, 2005. The Union's case is that the worker first encountered problems in the middle of May, 2004, specifically that her work was being checked upon and that dummy donors were being referred to her to test her competence (details supplied to the Court). A meeting took place in August, 2004, between the worker, the Director of Nursing and the Employee Relations Manager (ERM). A letter issued in September, 2004, advising the worker that it was incumbent on her to substantiate any claims she had. The worker was also advised regarding her allegations of bullying by reference to the Dignity at Work Policy.
In October, 2004, the worker was summoned to a formal disciplinary investigation on foot of statements collected from various IBTS staff. She was advised by her Union not to attend the meeting as it believed that she was being denied natural justice and, as a result, she did not attend. Another meeting took place on the 5th of November, 2004, at which the worker made counter allegations with regard to allegations made by the IBTS. A further meeting took place on the 29th of November, 2004. The worker was informed that her allegations could not be substantiated and she was further informed that her employment would be terminated on the 10th of December, 2004, with leave to appeal to the Chief Executive Officer. The worker submitted an appeal but it was unsuccessful.
The worker referred her case to the Labour Court on the 1st of June, 2005, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st of September, 2005. The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The worker was unfairly dismissed by the IBTS on foot of unsubstantiated allegations solicited from staff by management.
2.Due process and natural justice was not afforded the worker as the IBTS did not follow its own procedures in relation to the Human Resources Staff Manual.
3. The IBTS failed to invoke the disciplinary procedure against fellow employees and the worker's Line Manager where it was established that allegations she made were later substantiated.
4. The IBTS failed to establish a safe working environment for the worker.
4. 1. The worker was treated fairly in accordance with the principles of natural justice. She was aware at all times of the allegations against her and was given all documentation in advance of meetings. She had Union representation at all disciplinary meetings held.
2. All of the worker's allegations and counter-allegations were investigated and found to be without substance.
3. Her contract of employment was terminated on the grounds of serious misconduct.
4. The worker's behaviour in relation to unsubstantiated allegations could not be tolerated for the sake of team moral and normal working.
The Court is satisfied, as a matter of fact, that the procedures adopted by the employer in investigating complaints against the claimant were fair and allowed her an adequate opportunity to mount a full defence. The Court is further satisfied that substantial grounds existed which justified the decision of the employer to terminate the claimant's employment. Moreover, the Court does not believe that the other complaints made by the claimant are well founded from an industrial relations perspective.
In these circumstances, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th October, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.