INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
TNT EXPRESS SERVICES LTD
(REPRESENTED BY LENNON HEATHER, SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. 1. Change in Shift Pattern 2. Breach of Contract of Employment 3. Removal of Verbal Warning.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company in December, 1996. The Union claims that the worker has been treated unfairly by the Company in that Management has unilaterally changed his shift pattern, has breached his contract of employment and issued the worker with a written warning. The Company rejected the claim. The Union sought to refer the dispute to a Rights Commissioner for investigation but the Company objected to such a referral. On the 7th April, 2006, 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 29th June, 2006.
3. 1. The claimant, on commencement of employment was contracted to work a 36 hour week (3 x12 hour weekend shift). He remained on this shift for nearly ten years until he was forcibly transferred to a rotating shift which he operates to date under protest. The shift change is at complete variance to his previous roster and the unilateral change has had a significant impact on his personal life. He has suffered a financial loss and increased travel expenses.
2. The claimant has had one absence through sickness in the past fourteen months and has demonstrated and continues to show a sustained improvement attendance.
3. The Company has breached the claimant's contract of employment and he has been subjected to unfair treatment.
4. The Union is seeking that the claimant's verbal warning be removed and that he be returned to his week end shift and that he receive retrospection of the financial loss that he sustained.
4. 1. It was necessary to move the claimant to another shift because his absences were causing great difficulties to the business on the crucial weekend shift.
2. The claimant had been informed that his absences were not acceptable. He was afforded three counselling sessions in relation to his repeated absences and in relation to notifying the Company of absences. He was advised that if there was not an improvement he would be subjected to the disciplinary process.
3. The Company followed its disciplinary procedure and held a disciplinary hearing and two appeals by the claimant of the decision made at the hearing. Management followed the Company procedure and provided adequate warning to the claimant of the consequences of his actions.
4. The Company's actions were justified, fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union’s claim the Company was in breach of the worker’s contract of employment when he was taken off his normal weekend shift on 21st March 2006. It sought reinstatement to his former weekend shift, removal of a verbal warning issued to him on 11th November 2005 and compensation for his financial loss.
The Company stated that its actions in removing the worker from his normal shift roster and the issuing of a verbal warning was due to his general poor attendance at work. The Company outlined that the steps taken were in compliance with its procedures and gave details of the informal warnings given during counselling sessions that he would be removed from his normal weekend shift pattern if his attendance patterns did not improve.
The Court has carefully considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions. The Court accepts that the Company takes a serious approach to managing its absenteeism levels and consequently has a low level of absenteeism. The Company informed the Court that it is acknowledged that the worker’s levels of absenteeism have improved. The Court notes that the verbal warning has since expired and has been erased from his personnel file. The Court also notes that while the worker initially suffered a deduction in pay for the dates he reported for work but was required by management to return home due to his injuries, he has since been paid for 12th and 13th May 2005 and 14th July 2005.
In all the circumstances of this case, the Court recommends that at this point the worker should be reinstated to his former weekend roster with effect from 1st August, 2006. The Court does not find grounds for recommending compensation.
Furthermore, the Court recommends that the Company should made clear its policy on reporting absences and these details should be copied to the worker.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.